Alibaba pops 6% pushing Hong Kong stocks higher; Asia markets mostly lower (2024)

Residential buildings in Hong Kong, China on October 23, 2023.

Vernon Yuen | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index surged 3.5% on Wednesday, powered by tech stocks as other Asia-Pacific markets mostly fell.

The Hang Seng Tech index gained over 4% as Alibaba shares spiked, before paring some gains. The Chinese tech giant jumped as much as 6.57% after founder Jack Ma reportedly bought $50 million of Alibaba shares listed in Hong Kong.

Mainland China's CSI 300 rose 1.40%, extending gains from Tuesday and closing at 3,277.1. Just after the markets closed, the People's Bank of China governor said the central bank would cut its reserve requirement ratio for financial institutions by 50 basis points from Feb. 5.

Elsewhere, Japan's December exports beat expectations, with its trade balance turning in a $62.1 billion surplus compared with a $122.1 billion deficit expected by a Reuters poll of economists. The data comes a day after the Bank of Japan left its monetary policy unchanged.

Australia PMI surveys from Juno Bank showed an expansion in manufacturing activity in January after 11 straight months of contraction. Business activity in the country also saw a softer contraction in January compared to December.

In Australia, the inched up marginally after the announcement and ended at 7,519.2, marking four straight days of gains.

Japan's Nikkei 225 slid 0.8% to 36,226.48, extending its losses from Tuesday, while the Topix fell 0.51%, closing at 2,529.22.

South Korea's Kospi declined 0.36% to 2,469.69, with heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix recording the largest losses among the top 10 stocks on the benchmark index. The small-cap Kosdaq also fell 0.46% to finish at 836.21.

Overnight in the U.S., the gained 0.29% to set a fresh all-time high of 4,864.60 as traders assessed the latest batch of corporate earnings.

The technology-heavyNasdaq Compositeadvanced 0.43%, but the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a three day winning streak and fell 0.25%, retreating below the 38,000 level that wascrossed for the first timeon Monday.

— CNBC's Sarah Min and Alex Harring contributed to this report.

China’s PBOC cuts banks' reserve requirements in a bid to boost growth

China will cut the amount of liquidity that banks are required to hold as reserves from early next month.

Reserve ratio requirements for banks will be cut by 50 basis points from Feb. 5, which will provide 1 trillion yuan ($139.8 billion) in long-term capital, People's Bank of China Governor Pan Gongsheng said at a press conference.

Reducing the reserve requirements that banks must maintain will increase the capacity for lenders to extend loans and spur spending in the broader economy.

It comes as Beijing seeks to bolster growth, while deleveraging its once-bloated real estate sector, which accounts for about one-third of its economic activities.

This is the central bank's first reduction in reserve requirements this year, after cutting RRR twice last year. The PBOC said there's room for further monetary policy easing.

Read the full story here.

— Evelyn Cheng and Clement Tan

Alibaba shares surge after Jack Ma's reported $50 million share buyback

Shares of Chinese tech giant Alibaba surged almost 6% after founder Jack Ma reportedly bought $50 million worth of its Hong Kong stock in the fourth quarter.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the New York Times reported that along with Ma, Alibaba chairman Joe Tsai also bought $151 million worth of Alibaba's U.S.-traded shares in the fourth quarter via his Blue Pool Management family investment vehicle.

According to a Hong Kong exchange filing on Jan. 2, Alibaba bought back $9.5 billion of its shares in Hong Kong over 2023, resulting in a reduction of about 3.3% of its shares.

Alibaba pops 6% pushing Hong Kong stocks higher; Asia markets mostly lower (1)

— Lim Hui Jie

New Zealand's inflation rate hits lowest rate since June 2021

New Zealand's inflation rate fell to 4.7% in the final quarter of 2023, its lowest level since the quarter ended June 2021.

The reading indicates that inflation slowed throughout 2023, with the CPI rate dropping for a fourth straight quarter.

However, consumers prices senior manager Nicola Growden noted that while this is the smallest annual rise in the CPI in more than two years, it is still above the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's inflation target range of 1-3%.

This reading will be the last inflation reading before the RBNZ meets at the end of February for its monetary policy decision. The bank last held rates at 5.5% in November.

— Lim Hui Jie

Japan business activity expands at fastest pace in four months

Japan's private sector activity in January expanded at its fastest pace since September, according to flash data from the au Jibun bank.

Japan's composite purchasing managers index came in at 51.1, up from 50.0 in December. The bank said the increase was led by service providers, with the service sector PMI accelerating to 52.7 from 51.5.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion and a reading under 50 suggests a contraction.

Manufacturing PMI registered a smaller contraction in January, coming in at 47.4 from 46.8.

— Lim Hui Jie

Japan exports beat expectations in December, recording trade surplus as imports fall

Japan's exports grew 9.8% year-on-year in December, reversing from a 0.2% fall in the previous month and beating expectations of a 9.1% rise from economists polled by Reuters.

Imports to the world's third-largest economy fell 6.8% year-on-year in December, a smaller contraction compared with November's 11.9% decline, but steeper than the 5.3% expected from the Reuters poll.

As such, Japan's trade balance for December stood at a $62.1 billion surplus, compared with a $780.4 billion deficit in November.

For the whole of 2023, Japan's total exports climbed 2.8% year-on-year to 100.89 trillion yen, while imports fell 7% in the same period to 110.17 trillion yen.

— Lim Hui Jie

Australia factory activity expands for first time in 11 months, Juno Bank data shows

Australia's factory activity expanded for the first time in 11 months, according to flash data from Juno Bank.

The country's manufacturing purchasing managers' index for January came in at 50.3, up from December's figure of 47.6.

Service sector activity contracted at a slower pace, with the services PMI at 47.9 compared with December's 47.1.

Overall, business activity in Australia also saw a slower contraction, with the composite PMI at 48.1 against 46.9 in December.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 signals contraction.

— Lim Hui Jie

CNBC Pro: This Swiss auto parts maker's stock could soar by 75%, Vontobel says

A Switzerland-listed car parts manufacturer's share price could increase by over 70% in the next year, according to Vontobel.

The company makes lightweight auto components for car makers such as BMW, Ford, Renault, Mercedes, GM and Volvo.

Vontobel is forecasting a rise in profit margins and free cash flow at the company.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

Earnings cause divergence among Dow members

The Dow fell more than 100 points in Tuesday's session as investors parsed earnings reports from a handful of index members.

3M dragged on the blue-chip average with a drop of more than 11%, on track for its third biggest loss in history and worst day since April 2019. The selloff came after issuing disappointing full-year and first-quarter guidance.

also pulled the index down, sliding 1.5% despite beating Wall Street forecasts on both lines in the fourth quarter.

But losses were mitigated by rallies on the back of other members' reports. Verizon led the index higher with a gain of more than 5% following a better-than-expected report. Procter & Gamble followed, up more than 4% as investors keyed in on earnings per share that came in better than analysts anticipated.

Alibaba pops 6% pushing Hong Kong stocks higher; Asia markets mostly lower (2)

The Dow, 1-day

— Alex Harring

CNBC Pro: Goldman Sachs names 4 battery stocks to buy right now - giving one 120% upside

Electric vehicle automakers like Tesla and BYD have been making headlines over the last few weeks – but Goldman Sachs is now keeping watch on a corner of the market.

That is the battery sector – which includes lithium, nickel and electrolyte batteries that are key inputs in the manufacture of EVs.

The investment bank noted that the sector – and stocks – look attractive amid higher adoption of EVs and a reduction in battery prices.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Amala Balakrishner

United Airlines, 3M among Tuesday's biggest movers

These are some of the stocks moving the most during Tuesday's session:

  • United Airlines– The airline stock popped nearly 7% a day after the company reportedhigher-than-expected earnings and revenuefor the fourth quarter.
  • TKO Group– Shares of TKO Group Holdings rallied 13% after announcing adeal to air its WWE flagshipprogram known as "Raw" onNetflixnext year.
  • 3M– 3M sank more than 12% after issuing disappointing guidance.

Read the full list of stocks on the move here.

— Samantha Subin

Oil prices flat on mixed supply, geopolitical signals

Oil prices were largely flat Tuesday as traders tried to decipher mixed signals in the Middle East and threats to crude supplies.

The West Texas Intermediate contract for March rose 21 cents, or .28%, to trade at $74.97 a barrel on Tuesday, while the Brent crude contract rose 5 cents, or .06%, to trade at $80.11. U.S. crude was down more than 2% earlier in the trading session.

Israel has proposed a two-month pause of fighting in Gaza in exchange for the release of the remaining hostages, according to NBC News. But Hamas has rejected the offer, according the Associated Press.

Oil prices had risen about 2% on Monday on potential threats to crude supplies. Ukrainian drones reportedly struck a major Russian fuel terminal on the Baltic Sea over the weekend, and the U.S. and Britain launched renewed airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen on Monday.

Oil output in the U.S. has also taken a hit from the cold weather, with production in North Dakota down about 400,000 barrels per day as of Friday. The outage in the U.S. is tempered by Libya restarting production at the Sharara oilfield, which as a capacity of 300,000 barrels per day.

— Spencer Kimball

I'm an enthusiast with a deep understanding of financial markets and global economic trends. My expertise lies in analyzing stock market movements, central bank policies, and economic indicators.

Now, let's delve into the concepts used in the provided article:

  1. Hang Seng Index and Hang Seng Tech Index:

    • The Hang Seng Index surged by 3.5%, driven by the strong performance of tech stocks, particularly the Hang Seng Tech Index, which gained over 4%. Alibaba shares played a significant role in this surge, spiking after founder Jack Ma reportedly bought $50 million worth of Alibaba shares in Hong Kong.
  2. CSI 300:

    • Mainland China's CSI 300 rose by 1.40%, extending gains from the previous day. The People's Bank of China governor announced a 50 basis points cut in the reserve requirement ratio for financial institutions, providing 1 trillion yuan ($139.8 billion) in long-term capital to boost growth.
  3. Japan's Exports and Trade Balance:

    • Japan's December exports exceeded expectations, resulting in a trade surplus of $62.1 billion. The trade balance turned positive, with a surplus compared to the expected deficit, driven by a 9.8% year-on-year growth in exports and a smaller contraction in imports.
  4. Australia PMI Surveys:

    • Australia's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) surveys from Juno Bank revealed an expansion in manufacturing activity in January after 11 straight months of contraction. Business activity in the country also saw a softer contraction in January compared to December.
  5. Global Stock Markets:

    • In the U.S., the S&P 500 set a fresh all-time high, gaining 0.29%, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced by 0.43%. However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.25%, snapping a three-day winning streak. This market movement followed the assessment of the latest corporate earnings.
  6. China's PBOC Reserve Requirement Cut:

    • The People's Bank of China (PBOC) announced a reduction of 50 basis points in reserve ratio requirements for banks, starting from February 5. This move aims to increase liquidity, allowing banks to extend loans and stimulate spending to support economic growth.
  7. Alibaba Share Buyback:

    • Alibaba shares surged after reports that founder Jack Ma bought $50 million worth of its Hong Kong stock in the fourth quarter. Alongside Ma, Alibaba chairman Joe Tsai also reportedly bought $151 million worth of Alibaba's U.S.-traded shares during the same period.
  8. New Zealand's Inflation Rate:

    • New Zealand's inflation rate fell to 4.7% in the final quarter of 2023, the lowest level since June 2021. Despite this being the smallest annual rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in over two years, it remains above the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's inflation target range of 1-3%.
  9. Japan Business Activity:

    • Japan's private sector activity in January expanded at its fastest pace since September, with the composite purchasing managers index (PMI) reaching 51.1. The increase was led by service providers, contributing to an overall expansion in business activity.

These are the key economic and financial concepts covered in the provided article. If you have any specific questions or need further clarification on any of these topics, feel free to ask.

Alibaba pops 6% pushing Hong Kong stocks higher; Asia markets mostly lower (2024)

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