Hang Seng Index, ASX 200, Nikkei 225: Aussie Retail Sales, Earnings, and the Yen

Bob Mason
Updated: Mar 27, 2024, 21:55 GMT+00:00

Key Points:

  • Overnight gains across the US equity markets will set the tone for the Thursday Asian market session.
  • The Asian economic calendar places the RBA and ASX 200 in the spotlight.
  • USD/JPY trends and intervention chatter will influence the Nikkei, while corporate earnings and the PBoC put the Hang Seng Index in the spotlight.
Hang Seng Index, ASX 200, Nikkei 225

In this article:

US Equity Markets Dazzle as Inflation Numbers Loom

On Wednesday, the US equity markets enjoyed a positive session as the first quarter nears an end. There were no US economic indicators to influence bets on an H1 2024 Fed rate cut and market risk sentiment.

The Nasdaq Composite Index and the S&P 500 saw gains of 0.51% and 0.86%, respectively. On Wednesday, the Dow rallied 1.22%.

However, investors must track the US futures market throughout the Asian session. Jitters about US inflation and the Fed rate path could resurface. The US equity markets are closed on Friday, meaning investors cannot react to the Core PCE Price Index numbers until Monday.

Asian Economic Calendar: Aussie Retail Sales to Keep the RBA in the Spotlight

The Thursday Asian economic calendar puts the Australian economy, the RBA, and the ASX 200 in the spotlight.

Australian retail sales figures warrant investor attention. Softer-than-forecast numbers could further close the door on investors eying a final RBA interest rate hike. Economists forecast retail sales to increase by 0.4% in February after rising 1.1% in January.

Investors must also consider the overnight commodity price trends. Crude oil prices declined because of US inventories, while gold made gains. Iron ore price trends remain a concern for mining stocks as investors fret about demand from China.

Corporate Earnings: HK Earnings Season Puts Banks and Real Estate in the Spotlight

On Thursday, Bank of China (3988), China Construction Bank (0939), Postal Savings Bank (1658), and BOC Hong Kong (2388) are among the big names to release earnings. Earnings results could influence buyer demand for Hang Seng Index-listed financial sector stocks. Moreover, investors must monitor real estate earnings results, which remains a focal point.

The Nikkei benefitted from a stronger USD/JPY on Wednesday. However, intervention threats could materialize if the USD/JPY breaches the 152 barrier. An intervention could impact Nikkei-listed export stocks.

Moreover, the USD/CNY is another focal point, with sizeable swings likely to impact market confidence in mainland China stocks.

ASX 200

ASX 200 saw gains on Wednesday.
ASX200 280324 Daily Chart

The ASX 200 gained 0.51% on Wednesday. Bank, gold (XAU/USD), and oil stocks contributed to the gains. However, mining and tech stocks were under pressure. The S&P ASX All Technology Index (XTX) declined by 0.11%.

Gold (XAU/USD) stock Northern Star Resources Ltd. (NST) and Evolution Mining Ltd (EVN) ended the session up 2.15% and 0.57%, respectively.

Bank stocks ANZ Group Holdings Ltd. (ANZ) and National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB) advanced by 0.69% and 0.67%, respectively. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) rose by 1.18%. Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC) bucked the trend, declining by 0.91%.

Woodside Energy Group Ltd (WDS) fell by 0.20%, while Santos Ltd (STO) gained 1.18%.

Rio Tinto Ltd. (RIO) and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FMG) saw losses of 0.40% and 0.04%, respectively. BHP Group Ltd (BHP) ended the session up 0.14%. Iron ore price trends remained a drag mid-week.

Hang Seng Index

Tech and bank stocks impact the Hang Seng Index
HSI 280324 Daily Chart

On Wednesday, the Hang Seng Index slid by 1.36%. Tech stocks dragged the Index into negative territory as investors reacted to news of Alibaba scrapping IPO plans for Cainiao. The Hang Seng Tech Index (HSTECH) ended the session down 2.25%. Real estate stocks also struggled. The Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index (HSMPI) declined by 0.57%.

Tencent (0700) advanced by 0.87%, while Alibaba (9988) slid by 2.13%.

Bank stocks ended the session with heavy losses. HSBC (0005) declined by 1.05%. China Construction Bank (0939) and Industrial Commercial Bank (1398) saw losses of 1.44% and 0.75%, respectively.

The Nikkei 225

Weaker Yen boost the Nikkei.
Nikkei 280324 Daily Chart

(Graph for reference purposes only)

The Nikkei gained 0.90% on Wednesday, benefitting from the stronger USD/JPY.

Bank stocks steadied after a recent pullback. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (8316) and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (8306) advanced by 1.50% and 0.35%, respectively.

However, it was a mixed Wednesday session for the main components of the Nikkei.

Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. (9983) and Tokyo Electron Ltd. (8035) ended the session up 1.23% and 1.49%, respectively. Sony Group Corporation (6758) and KDDI Corp. (9433) rose by 0.72% and 0.53%, respectively.

Softbank Group Corp. (9948) bucked the trend, falling by 0.28%.

For upcoming economic events, refer to our economic calendar.

About the Author

Bob Masonauthor

With over 20 years of experience in the finance industry, Bob has been managing regional teams across Europe and Asia and focusing on analytics across both corporate and financial institutions. Currently he is covering developments relating to the financial markets, including currencies, commodities, alternative asset classes, and global equities.

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