investors monitor Bank of Japan decision, China’s Covid

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific stocks were mixed in Thursday morning trade, as investors in the region look ahead to the Bank of Japan’s latest monetary policy decision. Meanwhile, Chinese tech stocks rose, boosted by news to support the economy.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.16% while the Topix index climbed 0.49%.

Japan’s retail sales rose more than expected in March, according to government data released Thursday. Retail sales gained 0.9% in March as compared to a year earlier, above the median market forecast for a 0.4% rise, according to Reuters.

The Bank of Japan is set to announce its latest monetary policy decision at 11:00 am HK/SIN on Thursday.

“The overwhelming consensus, it appears, is for the BoJ to sit on its hands at this juncture and reiterate that its commitment to policy accommodation is unwavering,” Mizuho Bank’s Vishnu Varathan wrote in a Thursday note.

The Japanese yen traded at 128.74 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 127.4 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Japanese currency has for weeks weakened against the dollar, with expectations from the Bank of Japan is set to be relatively slower in normalizing monetary policy as compared with peers such as the US Federal Reserve.

Mainland Chinese stocks struggled, with the Shanghai Comte hovering above the flatline while the Shenzhen Component slip for fractionally.

Investors in Asia-Pacific have been continuing to monitor developments surrounding the Covid situation in mainland China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for an “all-out” effort to construct infrastructure. His comments from him come as mainland China has since March been facing its worst outbreak of Covid-19 since the initial shock of the pandemic in early 2020.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index climbed 0.29%.

Shares of Chinese tech stocks in Hong Kong climbed in Thursday morning trade, with Alibaba jumping 3.43% and Meituan climbing 0.74%. The Hang Seng Tech index traded 0.85% higher.

The internet tech stocks rose after news late Wednesday that as part of Beijing’s push to support employment, the government planned to support the so-called platform economy in order to create more jobs.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.19% while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia gained 0.97%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.27% higher.

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Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 gained 0.21% to 4,183.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 61.75 points, or 0.19%, to 33,301.93. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was little changed at 12,488.93.

Currencies and oil

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 103.10 — continuing to hold above the 102 levels it crossed earlier this week.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.711, off levels above $0.72 seen earlier in the week.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.81% to $104.47 per barrel. US crude futures shed 0.59% to $101.42 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.


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