Asia markets mixed after falling on Wednesday; Australia unemployment data in focus

51 Mins Ago

Australia employment numbers unexpectedly drop, unemployment rate steady at 3.9%

Australia’s employment numbers unexpectedly fell by 65,100 people in December, compared with an increase of 17,600 people estimated in a Reuters poll of economists.

The unemployment rate came in at 3.9%, unchanged from November and holding at its highest level in 19 months.

The country’s labor participation rate also fell more than expected to 66.8%, down from estimates of 67.1% and below November’s 67.2%.

David Taylor, head of labor statistics at Australia’s bureau of statistics noted “both the unemployment and underemployment rates remained relatively low and the participation rate and employment-to-population ratio relatively high, suggesting that the labor market remains tight.”

— Lim Hui Jie

An Hour Ago

Around half of Japanese firms looking to restructure to boost corporate value: Reuters

Around half of Japanese firms are looking at reviewing or restructuring their businesses to boost corporate value, according to a Reuters survey.

Reuters said that this was amid the Japanese markets hitting their highest levels in almost 34 years, buoyed by expectations that companies will boost shareholder returns through unwinding of cross-holdings, share buybacks and other measures.

The survey showed that among the 104 companies polled, just under a third said they were looking at merging with other companies, while around a quarter were looking at the sale of non-core businesses.

— Reuters

An Hour Ago

CNBC Pro: 2023’s AI boom was about ‘obvious’ plays — here’s how to invest in the next leg, according to Citi

Artificial intelligence blew up the markets in 2023.

And Nvidia marked the heart of the AI boom, soaring over 200% last year. The “Magnificent Seven” tech stocks drove much of the gains of the S&P 500, which rallied about 24% after a dismal 2022.

The bank said it’s “most certainly, not too late” for investors to participate in the “exponential growth” of AI technology.

Here are four areas that are “clear beneficiaries from the coming integration of AI into everyday business and personal lives,” according to Citi.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

An Hour Ago

CNBC Pro: These 14 cheap stocks are off to a great start in 2024, and Wall Street sees two jumping more than 30%

Stock markets have rallied over the past two months and near all-time highs.

Yet, shares in some companies are trading at steeper discounts than they have in recent history, presenting an opportunity for investors.

CNBC Pro screened the MSCI World Index and found 14 stocks that are trading cheaply with significant upside potential. Subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

6 Hours Ago

Economic activity, inflation flat since late November, Fed report notes

Economic activity over the past seven weeks has been largely stagnant, with both hiring and prices rising at a “modest to moderate” pace, according to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report released Wednesday.

The summary of conditions across the Fed’s 12 districts found economic activity to be “relatively unchanged” since the last report on Nov. 29, 2023. From a sector standpoint, housing weakened as did the demand for mortgages amid elevated interest rates.

Companies reported that inflation weighed on consumer activity and noted difficulty in pricing power. Still, they said noted that wage pressures “remain elevated.”

—Jeff Cox

14 Hours Ago

U.S.-listed China companies under pressure

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese companies fell Wednesday following the release of weaker-than-expected GDP data out of China.

Shares of and PDD were down more than 4% each in the premarket. Alibaba lost 3.3%. The iShares China Large Cap ETF (FXI) was also down 3.1%.

— Fred Imbert

6 Hours Ago

Fed unlikely to cut rates in March, according to strategist

While traders remain hopeful that the Federal Reserve will cut rates in March, Verdence Capital chief investment officer Megan Horneman believes rates my not be lowered until the second half of 2024.

“Right now, looking at the economy, there’s really no need for them to cut rates right now,” Horneman said.

“Cutting interest rates when you have employment that’s pretty low and a consumer who’s still spending could ‘re-inflate’ inflation, and that’s a concern I think the Fed has,” Horneman added.

— Hakyung Kim

5 Hours Ago

Oil prices mixed as investors weigh China growth against OPEC demand outlook

Oil prices were mixed on Wednesday as investors weighed disappointing economic growth in China against a strong demand outlook from OPEC.

The West Texas Intermediate futures contract for February gained 16 cents, or .22%, to settle at $72.56 a barrel. The Brent futures contract for March lost 41 cents, or .52%, to settle at $77.88 a barrel.

Oil prices lost more than 2% earlier in the trading session after fourth-quarter economic growth in China missed expectations, raising worries about oil demand.

The two benchmarks recovered some of those losses as OPEC forecast robust oil demand growth in 2025 of 1.8 million barrels per day. The group expects oil demand to grow by 2.25 million barrels per day this year.

Supply and demand dynamics have largely overshadowed fears that mounting tensions in the Middle East could disrupt the market.

— Spencer Kimball

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