Japan outshines Asian Stocks On Tech Strength, Chinese Markets Lag

Japanese stocks moved back towards a 33-year high on Friday, outpacing their Asian peers amid increased optimism over chipmaking stocks, while Chinese markets lagged as investors fretted over slowing economic growth and worsening U.S. ties. Broader Asian stocks also ticked lower in anticipation of more cues on the U.S. debt ceiling and a potential default. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.6% and was trading just below 33-year highs hit earlier this week, after positive earnings from U.S. chipmaker NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) boosted local stocks that are exposed to the firm. Nvidia said increased interest in artificial intelligence will fuel chip demand this year. The broader TOPIX added 0.2%, also moving back towards 33-year peaks. Semiconductor testing equipment maker Advantest Corp. (TYO:6857) jumped 5.1% to a record high, while chipmakers Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TYO:8035) and Dainippon Screen Mfg. Co., Ltd. (TYO:7735) surged 6% and 9%, respectively. Japanese stocks also benefited from a weaker-than-expected inflation print for Tokyo, which could herald more weakness in nationwide inflation and keep the Bank of Japan dovish.

Optimism Over Nvidia Spilled Over Into Other Chip-Heavy Indexes.

The Taiwan Weighted index rose 1.2%, buoyed by gains in TSMC (TW:2330), while South Korea’s KOSPI edged 0.2% higher on strength in Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930) and SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660). But on the other hand, China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell 0.4% and 0.1%, respectively. The two were set to lose nearly 3% this week as concerns over worsening ties between Washington and Beijing battered sentiment towards Chinese markets. China’s banning of local sales by U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ:MU) this week drove up fears of a renewed trade war between the two countries, although U.S. officials said the move had not “torpedoed” relations. Rising COVID-19 cases and slowing economic growth also kept investors wary of China, with a new outbreak set to peak by late-June. Weak economic indicators for April showed that growth in the country was slowing despite the lifting of anti-COVID measures earlier this year. Broader Asian markets were muted as focus remained on negotiations over raising the U.S. debt ceiling and avoiding a default. Negotiations were ongoing ahead of a June 1 deadline for a U.S. default, although lawmakers offered little indication that a deal was imminent. A default is likely to result in a U.S. recession, and could have dire consequences for the global economy. This, coupled with a recession in Germany, kept appetite for risk-heavy stocks limited. Australia’s ASX 200 index was flat, while Philippine shares led losses across Southeast Asia with a 0.8% drop.

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