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Hong Kong Stocks Rise 3%, Leading Gains in the Asia-Pacific as Investors Look Ahead to Fed Minutes

Aly Song | Reuters

This is CNBC's live blog covering Asia-Pacific markets.

Sunrise over Hong Kong in June, 2020
Tpg | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Sunrise over Hong Kong in June, 2020

Hong Kong shares led gains in the Asia-Pacific as investors looked ahead to the Fed's meeting minutes, watching for signs of more interest rate hikes.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 3.08%, in its final hour of trade, leading gains in the region, while the Hang Seng Tech index gained more than 3.08%. Mainland China's Shanghai Composite inched up 0.22% to 3,123.52 while the Shenzhen Component fell 0.2% to 11,095.37.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 closed up 1.63% at 7,059.2. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.79% to end off at 2,255.98, while the Kosdaq ended down 1.29% at 683.67.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan dropped 1.44% to 25,716.86 and the Topix declined 1.22% to 1,868.15 as the au Jibun Bank Flash Japan Manufacturing Purchasing manager's index for December fell further into contraction territory.

Investors are looking ahead to the release of the U.S. Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, better known as JOLTS, as well as the minutes of the Fed's latest policy meeting set to come out in the afternoon stateside.

Stocks on Wall Street closed lower after giving up earlier gains on concerns over rising rates and high inflation – with Tesla hitting its lowest level since August 2020, following disappointing fourth-quarter deliveries and Apple also falling on reports that it will cut production due to weak demand.

– CNBC's Carmen Reinicke, Tanaya Macheel contributed to this report

China technology, healthcare, and property leading gains in Hong Kong

Chinese technology and healthcare stocks listed in Hong Kong led gains in the Hang Seng index alongside property stocks in Wednesday's trading session.

Country Garden Services and Longfor Group saw the most gains, with both rising nearly 10% in Wednesday's afternoon trade. Alibaba Health Information Technology also rose 8.87% and Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group gained 7.42%.

Baidu rose 6.97% and Alibaba traded 6.88% higher after Ant received approval to expand its consumer finance business. Netease shares also rose 5.23% in the afternoon trade.

– Jihye Lee

Gold prices inch up after notching 6-month high

Gold prices edged higher after notching a six-month high in anticipation of the Fed's latest policy minutes.

Spot gold prices inched up 0.36% to $1,845.93 per ounce during Asia market hours, and U.S. gold futures were up 0.35% at $1,852.10.

Prices of gold had been on an overall rise since the start of November on the back of rising recession expectations and more gold purchases from central banks.

—Elliot Smith, Lee Ying Shan

Oil prices slump ahead of Fed meeting, Saudi Arabia's potential oil price cut to Asia

Oil prices dipped as traders looked ahead to Fed minutes and weighed Saudi Arabia's considerations of trimming prices for its Arab Light crude grade to Asia next month, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia's Saudi Aramco is weighing slashing its medium sour grade by around $1.50 a barrel, the report said.

Brent crude futures declined 0.16% to stand at $81.97 per barrel. Similarly, the U.S. West Texas Intermediate lost 0.34% to $76.67 per barrel.

—Lee Ying Shan

Alibaba shares rise after Ant Group receives approval for capital plan

Shares of Alibaba listed in Hong Kong rose 7.11% in Wednesday's morning trade – after China's Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission approved a plan for Ant Group's capital expansion plan for its consumer financial unit based in Chongqing.

According to a notice posted last week, Chinese regulators gave the greenlight to billionaire Jack Ma's financial technology firm to raise 10.5 billion yuan ($1.5 billion).

Ant Group is an affiliate of Alibaba in which the e-commerce giant owns 33%. Ant Group runs the Alipay mobile payments wallet in China. Alibaba's shares rose 2.78% on Tuesday, the first trading session after the notice was posted.

Other companies named in the notice included Hangzhou Jintou Digital Technology Group, Nanyang Commercial Bank, Zhejiang Sunny Optical and China Huarong Asset management.

The approval marks progress in the state-led regulatory overhaul of the fintech giant.

– Jihye Lee, Evelyn Cheng

CNBC Pro: Analysts see these 10 global renewable energy stocks rising despite higher rates with one offering 50% upside

Skyrocketing energy costs have spurred investment in renewable energy across the world.

Swiss investment bank UBS named 10 prominent renewable energy players capitalizing on the trend and are set to outperform over the next year.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

Japan's manufacturing activity marks weakest in more than two years

The au Jibun Bank Flash Japan Manufacturing Purchasing manager's index for December posted a reading of 48.9, marking a second consecutive month in contraction territory.

The reading inched down from November's 49.0, and marked the weakest figure since October 2020's figure of 48.70.

The sustained contractions in production was attributed to "weak global economic trends," the report stated.

—Lee Ying Shan

CNBC Pro screens for low-volatility stocks amid fears of a bumpy ride ahead

Stock markets endured a horrible 2022 as major indexes clocked their worst performances in more than a decade.

As market pros warn investors of bumpy times ahead, CNBC Pro used FactSet data to screen for low-volatility stocks that not only beat the market in 2022 but are expected to rise further this year.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

Tesla's Asia suppliers fall after deliveries report

Tesla's suppliers in Asia fell after it reported its fourth-quarter vehicle production and delivery numbers for 2022 that fell short of expectations.

The deliveries report showed 405,278 total deliveries for the quarter and 1.31 million total deliveries for the year, lower than expectations to see around 427,000 deliveries for the final quarter of the year.

Japan's Panasonic lost 1.82% in early Asia trade – South Korea's LG Chem fell 0.17% in earlier hours and Samsung SDI shed about 2%.

Shenzhen-listed shares of Contemporary Amperex Technology, or also known as CATL, fell 1.7%. Shares of Tesla closed down 12% on Tuesday on Wall Street.

– Ashley Capoot, Jihye Lee

CNBC Pro: Wall Street is bullish on this chip giant, with Morgan Stanley giving it 55% upside

The once-hot chip sector suffered in 2022, but Wall Street looks to be turning more optimistic on semiconductor stocks for the year ahead.

Recently, several pros have urged investors to take a longer-term view on the sector, given the importance of chips in several key secular trends.

Analysts named one stock in particular they're bullish on, citing its earnings potential and future profitability.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Apple's Asia suppliers trade mostly up in spite of production cut reports

Shares of most Apple suppliers in Asia traded mixed after the tech giant's market capitalization fell below $2 trillion following a selloff in Apple shares.

Apple's main chip supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was flat while shares of Foxconn, or also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, fell 0.8%. China-listed shares of Luxshare fell 6.98% while South Korea's Samsung SDI fell 1.82%.

In Japan, AGC fell 0.23% and Murata Manufacturing shed 1.08% while Sony gained 1.94% and Japan display rose 2.63%.

Overnight in the U.S., Apple's shares fell 3.74% at the close.

— Lee Ying Shan

U.S. manufacturing PMI slips at fastest rate since May 2020

The U.S. manufacturing price managers' index, a measure of output, fell at the fastest rate in December since May 2020, according to S&P Global.

The index was 46.2 in December, down from 47.7 in November, according to data released Tuesday. Lower prices and contracting production levels weighed on the index. In addition, December saw a sharper than expected decline on new sales, with companies noting uncertainty due to the economic backdrop.

—Carmen Reinicke

Tesla sheds 13%, hits new 52-week low

Shares of Tesla continued to fall after the electric vehicle maker announced that deliveries in the fourth quarter fell short of Wall Street's expectations.

The stock slipped more than 13%, hitting levels not seen since August 2020. The slide is coming off the worst annual performance for the stock - Tesla fell 65% in 2022.

—Carmen Reinicke

Apple market cap falls below $2 trillion

A selloff in Apple shares pushed the iPhone maker's market capitalization below $2 trillion on Tuesday.

Shares shed 4% amid news that it's reportedly cutting production on some items due to weak demand. Concerns over iPhone supply during the holiday period have mounted in recent weeks and pressured shares as shutdowns rippled through Apple's major supplier in China.

The drop in shares contrasts a year ago, when Apple became the first U.S. company to hit a $3 trillion market cap.

Apple was the last of the mega cap technology stocks to hover above the $2 trillion level.

— Samantha Subin

U.S. will avoid recession in 2023, Goldman Sachs says

Goldman Sachs has an out-of-consensus forecast for the U.S. economy in 2023.

"Our economists continue to believe that the US will avoid recession as the Fed successfully engineers a soft landing of the economy," analysts wrote Tuesday.

"This out-of-consensus forecast partly reflects our view that a period of below-potential growth is enough to gradually rebalance the labor market and dampen wage and price pressures," the note said. "But it also reflects our analysis that indicates that the drag from fiscal and monetary policy tightening will diminish sharply next year, in contrast to the consensus view that the lagged effects of interest rate hikes will cause a recession in 2023."

In addition, the bank today raised its 4Q22 GDP growth forecast by 10bp to +2.1% on the back of a surprisingly strong November Construction Spending release

"The disconnect between the resilience of the US economy in 2022 and the downdraft experienced by stocks is has been a key narrative of the past year," Goldman said. "And, whether this disconnect continues, or the economy matches the market downdraft, or the market rebounds in the wake of an economic soft landing may be at least part of the narrative of 2023."

—Carmen Reinicke

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