Asian markets mixed as investors await ECB bank interest rate decision

Asian markets traded mixed Wednesday afternoon while investors await the European central bank’s interest rate decision this week.

Mainland Chinese shares were mainly lower by the afternoon, with the Shenzhen component declining 0.45 percent and the Shenzhen composite down 0.248 percent. The Shanghai composite was largely flat. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.35 percent.

Elsewhere in Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.86 percent while the Topix index gained 1.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi also added 0.74 percent. Over in Australia the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.17 percent.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 0.48 percent.

On the trade front, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday that China has offered to increase U.S. agricultural purchases in exchange for a delay in tariffs and easing of a supply ban against telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies.

Additionally, Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief at the state-owned Global Times, said in a tweet Wednesday that China will “introduce important measures to ease the negative impact of the trade war.” Those measures will “benefit some companies from both China and the US,” he said.

Apple suppliers gain

Meanwhile, shares of Apple suppliers in Asia traded higher on Wednesday following the unveiling of the Cupertino-based tech giant’s latest products on Tuesday.

Japanese component supplier Murata Manufacturing rose 1.77 percent and Sharp jumped 4 percent , while South Korea’s LG Display added 2.81 percent higher. Hong Kong-listed AAC Technologies also advanced 1.79 percent, while Largan Precision in Taiwan gained 3.58 percent.

ECB rate decision

Investors also await the European Central Bank’s decision on interest rates on Thursday.

“The European Central Bank Governing Council is likely to cement a dovish path until at least the end of 2020, when they meet on Thursday,” analysts from DBS Group Research wrote in a note.

“Markets have run ahead of themselves. Any sign that the ECB has fallen short of expectations might result in short-term unwinding in positions,” they warned.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.344 after trading below 98.4 for much of this week.

The Japanese yen, often viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 107.72 against the dollar following its weakening from levels around 106.8 earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6870 after rising from levels below $0.672 last week.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asian trading hours following a slip on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he fired national security advisor John Bolton, viewed as a hawk on Iran and North Korea.

International benchmark Brent crude futures added 0.79 percent to $62.87 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures gained 0.85 percent to $57.89 per barrel.

Source: CNBC