Nikkei Rises as Investors Shrug Off Brexit Woes; IMF Sees Slower Asian Growth

Japan’s markets reopened after a holiday on Tuesday. Softbank shares tumbled 2.51%, as the Japanese tech giant struck a deal to take over the embattled WeWork.
James Hyerczyk
Tokyo Stock Exchange

The major Asia Pacific stock indexes finished mixed on Wednesday as fresh developments on Brexit meant the deadline for the U.K. to leave the European Union would likely be delayed again. U.K. lawmakers voted to reject a limited time frame for reviewing legislation related to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. It now means that the U.K. is almost certainly not going to leave the UE on October 31 – the current deadline, and the EU may provide an extension to prevent a no-deal Brexit occurring.

In the cash market on Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22625.38, up 76.48 or +0.34%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2080.62, down 8.24 or -0.39% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 26552.26, down 233.94 or -0.87%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2941.62, down 12.76 or -0.43% and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 finished at 6673.10, up 0.90 or +0.01%.

Nikkei 225 Index Reopens with Gain; Softbank Shares Fall

Japan’s markets reopened after a holiday on Tuesday. Softbank shares tumbled 2.51%, as the Japanese tech giant struck a deal to take over the embattled WeWork.

SoftBank has struck a deal to take control of WeWork, the co-working company announced.

The company said the Japanese conglomerate will provide $5 billion in new financing and up to $3 billion in a tender offer for existing shareholders. SoftBank will also speed up an existing $1.5 billion financing commitment, WeWork said in a release.

After completion and tender offer, SoftBank’s stake in WeWork will be approximately 80%.

SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement, “SoftBank is a firm believer that the world is undergoing a massive transformation in the way people work. WeWork is at the forefront of this revolution.”

IMF Predicts Slower Growth in Major Asian Economies

Economic growth across Asia is set to slow more than expected, according to the latest projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In its Regional Economic Outlook report released Wednesday, the IMF said growth in Asia could moderate to 5% in 2019, and 5.1% in 2020 – that’s 0.4% and 0.3% lower than its April projections.

Among the worst-hit major Asian economies projected to slow more than expected, Hong Kong – already battered by months-long unrest – could grow 0.3% this year and 1.5% in 2020. That’s 2.4% and 1.5% lower, respectively, than the fund’s initial projections.

The report singled out the unrest in Hong Kong as one risk which could affect the region. “A deterioration of the sociopolitical situation, for example in Hong Kong…could have economic spillovers to other countries in the region and beyond.”

Earlier this week, the IMF had projected the Chinese economy could grow at 5.8% next year – slower than the 6.1% forecast for 2019.

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