Markets

Japan's Nikkei Falls 1%; New Zealand's Central Bank Hikes Interest Rates

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly lower in Wednesday trade.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand on Wednesday raised its official cash rate to 0.5%, among the first advanced economies to do so in the pandemic era.
  • Mainland Chinese markets remained closed on Wednesday for the holidays.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly lower on Wednesday, with major indexes in Japan and South Korea leading losses regionally.

Japan's Nikkei 225 shed earlier gains, falling 1.05% to close at 27,528.87, while the Topix index dipped 0.3% on the day to 1,941.91. South Korea's Kospi slipped 1.82%, closing at 2,908.31.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined 0.6%, as of its final hour of trading. Shares in Australia also dipped, with the S&P/ASX 200 falling 0.58% to close at 7,206.50.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore's Straits Times index bucked the trend, advancing 0.45% as of 3:20 p.m. HK/SIN.

Overall, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.7%.

Mainland Chinese markets remained closed on Wednesday for the holidays.

RBNZ hikes rates

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) on Wednesday raised its official cash rate to 0.5%, joining South Korea and Norway in being among the earliest countries to raise rates in the pandemic era.

"The Committee noted that further removal of monetary policy stimulus is expected over time, with future moves contingent on the medium-term outlook for inflation and employment," the RBNZ said in a release.

Following the rate hike announcement, the New Zealand dollar briefly jumped above $0.697, before retreating from those levels and last trading at $0.6904.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 311.75 points to 34,314.67 while the S&P 500 jumped 1.05% to 4,345.72. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.25% to 14,433.83.

Despite Tuesday's gains, all three major averages on Wall Street are still down for the week.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers was at 94.18 following its bounce earlier in the week from below 93.9.

The Japanese yen traded at 111.71 per dollar, weaker than levels below 111.2 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7241, against an earlier high of $0.7295.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.44% to $82.92 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.41% to $79.25 per barrel.

Correction: This article was updated to accurately reflect the closing moves for South Korea's Kospi on Wednesday.

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