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Market Roundup : APAC & US Markets In Focus

Analyst Team trader
Updated 28 Mar 2024

Asian stock markets faced a day of significant news on Thursday, with investors digesting a positive session on Wall Street and anticipating the release of Australian retail sales data and earnings reports from major banks in the Hang Seng Index.

U.S. investors set a cheerful tone on Wednesday as the quarter drew to a close, with leading indices recording solid gains. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index notched up a 0.51% increase, while the broader S&P 500 index climbed by 0.86%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average outperformed its peers significantly, rallying 1.22%.

The upbeat session in U.S. equities, however, left market players cautious as they turned their eyes towards the futures market during the Asian session. The key concern remains the trajectory of U.S. inflation and the Federal Reserve's approach to interest rates, factors that continue to influence global risk sentiment.

In Australia, the spotlight was on retail sales figures for February, which analysts expected to show a 0.4% increase following a robust 1.1% rise in January. These figures are keenly observed as they can offer insights into consumer confidence and spending patterns, impacting projections for the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy moves and consequently the ASX 200 index performance.


Commodities also played a role in setting market mood, with crude oil prices taking a hit due to swelling U.S. inventories, signaling potential weakness in demand. Conversely, gold prices advanced, often a reflection of investors seeking safe-haven assets amidst uncertain market conditions.

The Japanese Yen has fallen to it's lowest point since the 1990s which may have caused Japan's Nikkei to also plummet 1.46%.

Moving to Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index faces influence from corporate earnings with financial heavyweights such as Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Postal Savings Bank of China, and BOC Hong Kong slated to release their figures on Thursday. These reports are likely to provide direction for the financial sector, which is already grappling with other market variables.

However, the composite was weighed down on Wednesday as technology stocks fell, pinning the index in negative territory. Market sentiment faltered following news that Alibaba had abandoned its plans for listing its logistics arm Cainiao, stirring concerns over the tech sector's growth prospects.

Moreover, contrasting performances among bank stocks were observed, with HSBC, China Construction Bank, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China experiencing losses, while some Japanese banking stocks bucked the trend with gains. These movements underscored the localized nature of market dynamics and the variance in investor sentiment across Asian financial hubs.

Investors across Asia-Pacific markets will likely continue to tread cautiously, balancing the positive lead from U.S. markets with developments in retail data and corporate earnings. These inputs may play a pivotal role in determining the direction of equities as the region navigates through a complex landscape of economic signals and policy expectations.

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The AskTraders Analyst Team features experts in technical and fundamental analysis, as well as traders specializing in stocks, forex, and cryptocurrency.