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Japan drops nearly 2%; New Zealand dollar falls after central bank announces rate hike

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade, with Japanese stocks leading losses regionally.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 1.79% while the Topix index declined 1.32%. Markets in Japan were closed on Tuesday for a holiday. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.44%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index sat fractionally lower while mainland Chinese stocks dipped, with the Shanghai composite down about 0.1% and the Shenzhen component declining fractionally.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Straits Times index in Singapore gained 0.14%.

Singapore’s economy grew 7.1% in the third quarter as compared with a year ago, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It was higher than an earlier official advance estimate for 6.5% year-on-year growth.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 stood little changed.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.25%.

New Zealand dollar slips

In other central bank developments, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand on Wednesday announced its decision to raise the official cash rate to 0.75%, in line with expectations of most economists in a Reuters poll.

“The Committee agreed it remains appropriate to continue reducing monetary stimulus so as to maintain price stability and support maximum sustainable employment,” the New Zealand central bank said in a release. “The Committee noted that further removal of monetary policy stimulus is expected over time given the medium term outlook for inflation and employment.”

Following the RBNZ’s announcement, the New Zealand dollar tumbled nearly 0.7% to $0.6901, against levels around $0.7 seen earlier in the week.

The rise in Treasury yields has weighed on technology stocks on Wall Street, with the Nasdaq Composite falling 0.5% overnight stateside to 15,775.14. Higher rates are often seen as a negative for high-growth firms in sectors like tech as their future earnings look less attractive against a backdrop of rising short-term yields.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 194.55 points to 35,813.80 while the S&P 500 climbed about 0.17% to 4,690.70.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.556 following its climb earlier in the week from below 96.4.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.97 per dollar, having weakened from below 114.5 against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7203, still off levels above $0.73 seen last week.

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.17% to $82.17 per barrel. U.S. crude futures hovered mildly higher at $78.52 per barrel.

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