Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of U.S. Inflation Data

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday after the U.S. Senate approved a $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

As Fed officials talk up the prospects of unwinding some stimulus, investors awaited U.S. consumer inflation data later in the day for additional clues on the outlook for monetary policy.

Chinese shares ended on a flat note as COVID-19 cases in the country hit a seven-month high. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.2 percent to finish at 26,660.16.

Japanese shares extended gains for the fourth straight session as strong earnings from Bridgestone and other firms outweighed concerns over rapidly rising coronavirus cases in the capital.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose 182.36 points, or 0.7 percent, to 28,070.51, closing above 28,000 for the first time since July 16. The broader Topix gained 0.9 percent to end at 1,954.08.

Bridgestone soared 5.4 percent after the tire maker reported strong quarterly earnings and issued an upbeat annual profit outlook. Similarly, Toho Zinc jumped 12.7 percent after raising its full-year earnings forecasts.

Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial rallied around 3 percent as U.S. bond yields rose to one-month highs after the U.S. Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

Heavyweight Softbank Group gave up 1.8 percent after Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said the company would pause Chinese investments.

Australian markets hit a record high as Commonwealth unveiled a record $4.4 billion share buyback after reporting a 20 percent rise in full-year profit.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 21.70 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,584.30 while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 24.20 points, or 0.3 percent, at 7,854.60.

Commonwealth shares advanced 1.5 percent, while the other three big banks gained between 0.7 percent and 1.2 percent. Insurance Australia Group fell 2.7 percent after reporting net loss after tax of $427 million for the period ending June 30, 2021.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto both rose over 1 percent despite iron ore prices dropping to a three-month low on concerns about weakening Chinese demand.

Iress soared 5.8 percent after the financial services software group received a revised buyout offer from Sweden-based private-equity firm EQT.

In economic news, consumer confidence in Australia remains weak in August, the latest survey from Westpac Bank showed, as its sentiment index dipped 4.4 percent to a score of 104.1 from 108.8 in July.

Seoul stocks ended lower for the fifth straight day as the country posted a record number of coronavirus cases. The daily caseload has remained above 1,000 for over a month despite the implementation of a semi-lockdown in the capital area. The Kospi dropped 22.57 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,220.62.

Samsung Electronics fell 2.1 percent and SK Hynix gave up 6.2 percent after market researcher TrendForce said that personal computer DRAM prices will likely fall by up to 5 percent sequentially in the final quarter of the year due to PC manufacturers’ high inventory.

New Zealand shares ended on a flat note, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index closing down 16.16 points, or 0.1 percent, at 12,748.07.

While heavyweight Fisher & Paykel tumbled 3.5 percent, property stocks such as Goodman Property Trust and Vital Healthcare Property Trust rose about 2 percent on hopes for strong earnings.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill secured a majority vote in the Senate. The package now heads to the House, where it faces an uncertain future.

The Dow rose half a percent and the S&P 500 inched up marginally to reach new record highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index dropped half a percent.

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