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Stocks rally on Nvidia results, Japan nears record: markets wrap

Stocks rally on Nvidia results, Japan nears record: markets wrap
A Qantas Airways plane takes off from Sydney Airport in Australia, on Tuesday, 22 August 2023. (Photo: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)

Asian equities and US stock futures rose on Thursday in a sign of fresh momentum after Nvidia unveiled a better-than-expected revenue forecast.

Japanese shares rallied, supported by a depressed yen, with the Nikkei 225 Index briefly surpassing its 1989 closing record high. South Korea stocks gained, while Chinese benchmarks fluctuated. The moves lifted a gauge of the region’s equities to its highest level in almost two years.

Equities are “basking in the stellar results from Nvidia after-market”, said Jun Rong Yeap, market strategist at IG Asia Pte. “US futures were also bouncing higher, bringing about a more buoyant risk environment following recent caution.”

Gains in US contracts during Asian hours were spurred on by Nvidia results. The tech company’s shares soared as much as 11% in post-market trade after it said first-quarter revenue would likely hit $24-billion, above prior estimates of around $22-billion.

The results were expected to provide a catalyst for global equities, and delivered on the promise. Nvidia’s Asia-based suppliers SK Hynix Inc and Advantest Corp climbed as did a region-wide index of semiconductor companies.

“As goes Nvidia, so goes the market,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer of Bokeh Capital Partners LLC. “And it looks like the results are good enough. It does confirm the narrative that AI is going to continue to be strong for the foreseeable future. This narrative supported the markets last year, why wouldn’t it do the same this year?”

Shares in mainland China and Hong Kong swung between gains and losses just as the 30-minute ban on net selling closed for the morning session. China’s securities regulator tightened its grip on the market following an order banning major institutional investors from reducing equity holdings at the open and close of each trading day, according to people familiar with the matter. 

“Things are still not that rosy,” said Xiaojia Zhi, chief China economist for Credit Agricole, speaking on Bloomberg Television. “Deflationary pressures are likely to continue for the rest of the year even though it will be less prominent compared to last year.”

The dollar was weaker on Thursday as it slipped against G10 currencies. The yen was largely unchanged at around 150 per dollar. The won pared its gains after comments from Bank of Korea’s governor Rhee Chang-yong following the central bank’s decision to leave the key interest rate unchanged.

Treasuries steadied in Asia after selling off Wednesday pushing the 10-year yield five basis points higher. The selling pressure was seen across the curve, and followed a $16-billion sale of 20-year bonds and the release of Federal Reserve meeting minutes that revealed caution about cutting rates. Australian and New Zealand bonds were steady.

Richmond Fed chief Thomas Barkin highlighted persistent pricing pressures in sectors such as housing even though headline inflation is falling. Fed governor Michelle Bowman, meanwhile, pushed back against the prospect of imminent cuts.

Elsewhere, Qantas Airways Ltd said first-half profit declined as airfares fell from their post-Covid spike as it delivered a A$1.25-billion underlying first-half, pre-tax profit, down from a year earlier, but less than analysts expected. United Overseas Bank Ltd.’s fourth-quarter profit expanded, powered by stronger fee income from wealth and credit cards.

Later on Thursday economic data set for release includes Eurozone inflation and PMIs, as well as US initial jobless claims and home sales.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil was steady after a 1.1% gain on Wednesday, supported by tightening physical supplies. Gold was steady at around $2,027 per ounce. Bitcoin steadied after a drop on Wednesday to trade around $51,250.

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