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Asia Market News: Nikkei Enters a New Era with 40,000

By:
Bob Mason
Published: Mar 4, 2024, 03:07 UTC

Key Points:

  • On Monday, the Nikkei broke through the 40,000 barrier for the first time in history.
  • Australian building approval and labor market signals flashed red.
  • The Asian markets prepare for a pivotal week, with the National People’s Congress opening on Tuesday, March 5.
Asia Market News

In this article:

Nikkei Breaks Through the 40,000 Barrier

On Monday, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.77% to 40,219. Significantly, the Nikkei broke through the 40,000 barrier for the first time in history, launching a new era for the Japanese equity markets.

Weaker-than-expected US economic indicators from Friday set the tone for the Monday session. However, expectations of a shift in interest rate trends remain, with the markets betting on an April Bank of Japan pivot from negative rates.

Nonetheless, the BoJ has signaled that policy will remain accommodative after exiting negative rates. Investors also expect improved productivity to boost earnings as companies adopt AI.

Nikkei breaks the 40,000 barrier
Nikkei 225 Daily Chart 040324

A stronger USD/JPY contributed to the morning gains. The USD/JPY was up 0.07% to 150.160 on Monday morning. The Yen was on the back foot despite an unexpected surge in capital spending. Capital spending jumped by 16.4% year-on-year in Q4 after rising by 3.4% in Q3. Economists forecast capital spending to moderate to 1.9% year-on-year.

USD/JPY makes morning gains.
USDJPY Hourly Chart 040324

In contrast, the Hang Seng Index and ASX 200 struggled at the start of the week, falling by 0.67% and 0.05%, respectively, in the morning session.

Investor apprehension before the start of the National People’s Congress likely pressured the Hang Seng Index. Investors expect lawmakers to deliver meaningful fiscal stimulus to kick-start the Chinese economy and bolster the real-estate sector.

A larger-than-expected surge in Australian Company Gross Profits failed to drive buyer demand for ASX-listed stocks.

Company Gross Profits Surge 7.4% in Q4

Australian company gross profits surged 7.4% in Q4 after declining by 1.6% in the third quarter. Economists forecast a 1.8% increase quarter-on-quarter.

January building approvals numbers and job ad figures for February overshadowed the profit numbers. Building approvals unexpectedly fell by 1% after a 9.5% slide in December. Job ads slid by 2.8% after rising by 3.4% in January.

A further pullback in building approvals suggested inflation and mortgage rates took a bite out of demand. A weaker labor market also sent a red flag. In February, the RBA highlighted uncertainty about household spending. Higher unemployment could impact consumer confidence and wages. Consumers could curb consumer spending as a result, dampening demand-driven inflation.

Nonetheless, the AUD/USD was up 0.02% to $0.65242. A softer US dollar offset the effects of the economic data.

AUD/USD finds modest support on Monday.
AUDUSD Hourly Chart 040324

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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