Asian Shares Mixed After Powell Comments

Asian stocks ended mixed in thin trading on Thursday, with markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan closed for the Dragon Boat Festival.

The dollar languished near a one-month low against a basket of currencies despite Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell affirming that more interest rate increases are likely ahead. Gold and oil prices were modestly lower in Asian trading.

Japanese shares fell sharply after rising in the two previous sessions. The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 0.9 percent to 33,264.88, while the broader Topix Index finished marginally higher at 2,296.50.

Semiconductor shares fell on profit taking after recent sharp gains. Advantest plummeted 6.9 percent, Tokyo Electron plunged 4.6 percent and Screen Holdings lost 3.6 percent.

Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial added 2-4 percent.

Panasonic advanced 2.3 percent on news that its energy unit was in talks to supply batteries to power Mazda Motor’s electric vehicles.

Seoul stocks rose to snap a three-day losing streak despite Powell’s hawkish congressional testimony. The Kospi edged up 0.4 percent to 2,593.70.

Samsung Electronics and LG Energy Solution climbed 1-2 percent, while steel giant Posco Holdings rallied 3.5 percent.

Australian markets tumbled as tech stocks suffered heavy losses on concerns about the outlook for interest rates. Afterpay owner Block gave up 2.3 percent, Appen shed 1.1 percent and WiseTech Global slumped 4 percent.

Miners also fell, with heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto falling 1-2 percent on worries about China’s economic recovery.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index slumped 1.6 percent to 7,195.50 while the broader All Ordinaries Index settled 1.7 percent lower at 7,381.

Siren Gold jumped 12.4 percent after an announcement that its ionic leach trial has detected mineralization below the surface at its Sams Creek project in New Zealand.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand shares ended lower, with the benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index closing down 0.3 percent at 11,739.05.

Transport fleet management software firm Eroad soared nearly 60 percent after receiving a nearly $150 million takeover offer from a subsidiary of Canadian software group Constellation.

U.S. stocks declined overnight after Fed Chair Powell reiterated that interest rates would need to rise further to contain stubbornly elevated inflation.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 1.2 percent and the S&P 500 gave up half a percent to record their third straight session of losses, while the Dow eased 0.3 percent.

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