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Asia-Pacific markets mostly rise as investors digest Fed’s smaller quarter-point hike

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Signs of ‘sequential acceleration’ in Hong Kong despite economy contraction in 2022: UBP

Hong Kong’s economy is “in a position to return to expansion,” this year, UBP told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday. 

“We are seeing signs that there’s been a sequential acceleration in January. So that’s the good news,” said Carlos Casanova, UBP’s senior economist for Asia.

This in spite of new numbers from the Hong Kong government showing that its economy contracted by 4.2% in its fourth quarter, falling for four straight quarters in 2022. Real GDP also shrank by 3.5% year-on-year.

“We are confident that we should be in a position to return to expansion in 2023, not only because of mainland tourists [are] returning after the reopening, but … we have more supportive equity valuations that’s definitely helping with sentiment in in Hong Kong,” Casanova added.

—Goh Chiew Tong

Bitcoin rises about 4%, nears $24,000

Bitcoin rose 3.72% in the past 24 hours, prices on Coin Metrics showed, as investors continued to cheer the U.S. Federal Reserve’s smaller rate hike of 25 basis points.

The cryptocurrency briefly touched $24,000 and last traded at $23,986.65, hovering at the highest levels since mid-August 2022.

Ether rose 5.77% and last traded at $1,677.13.

U.S. dollar index fluctuates, hovers around 100

The dollar index fell more than 0.3% to 100.92, to the lowest levels that it’s seen since April 2022, when it last fell below the 101-mark, Refinitiv data showed.

The Dollar Index hit a low of 101.036 overnight, its lowest level since 4/22/2022 when it traded as low as 100.473.

The index is down 0.74% week-to-date and on pace for its fourth consecutive negative week for the first time since its 4-week streak ending on Jan. 14, 2022.

– Chris Hayes, Gina Francolla, Jihye Lee

Australia’s building approvals rise 18.5%, beats expectations

Australia’s total approved building approvals rose 18.5%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, much higher than the 1% increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll.

Private sector house approvals fell 2.3%, while approvals for private sector buildings excluding houses rose by 56.6%, ABS said in its release.

Non-residential buildings’ value fell by 1.7%, while the value of total buildings rose 3%.

– Jihye Lee

South Korea’s consumer price index rose 5.2% in January

South Korea’s consumer price index rose by 5.2% in January on an annualized basis, data from Statistics Korea showed.

The latest print shows an uptick from previous readings, after falling from 5.7% in October 2022 to 5.0% in November and remaining unchanged in December.

Prices of living necessities rose by 6.1% compared to a year ago, while fresh food items rose by 2.4%.

– Jihye Lee

Adani Enterprises withdraws follow-on public offering overnight

Investors will be closely watching shares of Adani Group companies after Adani Enterprises withdrew its $2.5 billion follow-on public offering overnight, despite the sale being fully subscribed, which many saw as a vote of confidence from investors.

The company cited “the unprecedented situation and the current market volatility,” for the decision, adding that it is working to refund the proceeds to investors.

“Given these extraordinary circumstances, the Company’s board felt that going ahead with the issue would not be morally correct,” founder Gautam Adani said in a statement.

“The interest of the investors is paramount and hence to insulate them from any potential financial losses, the Board has decided not to go ahead with the FPO,” he said.

The move comes after Adani stocks continued to sell off during Wednesday’s trading session in Mumbai — reflecting eroded investor sentiment since Hindenburg Research announced its short position in Adani Group companies.

Shares of Adani Enterprises plunged by 28% as of Wednesday’s market close. Adani Port and Special Economic Zone dropped 19%, Adani Green Energy fell 5.6%, Adani Total Gas lost 10% while Adani Transmission closed 2.8% lower.

– Jihye Lee

CNBC Pro: JPMorgan says Hong Kong shares to rebound in February and names 5 stocks to own

JPMorgan has named five stocks to own amid an expected rise in the broader Chinese stock market in February.

Strategists at the Wall Street bank attributed last week’s sell-off in Hong Kong-listed shares as profit-taking by some investors.

They said the wider stock market will be “grinding higher” this month but rotate into “quality laggards in consumption as well as value cyclical and growth spaces.”

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more about the 5 stocks JPMorgan has named.

— Ganesh Rao

CNBC Pro: Worried about Alibaba’s share price slump? Analysts have 4 alternative tech picks

Shares in Alibaba have enjoyed a strong rebound this year, though a recent slump in its share price has got some investors worried.

But the Wall Street favorite is far from the only game in town, with several stocks also offering exposure to the Chinese Internet sector.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

Federal Reserve hikes by 25 basis points, but expects ‘ongoing’ increases

The Federal Reserve raised benchmark overnight lending rates by 25 basis points, or 0.25 percentage point, matching investor expectations. The hike brings the Fed’s target range to 4.5%-4.75%, the highest level since 2007.

In its statement, however, the Fed kept language noting that the FOMC still sees the need for “ongoing increases in the target range.” Market participants had been hoping for some softening of the phrase, but the statement, approved unanimously, kept it intact.

— Jeff Cox

Don’t expect a rate cut in 2023, Powell says

Jerome Powell said he doesn’t expect the Fed to cut rates this year, as some major strategists project.

“Given our outlook, I don’t see us cutting rates this year, if our outlook comes true,” the Fed chair said.

Powell also said he was “not concerned” about the bond market implying one more cut before a pause, because some market participants are expecting inflation to fall faster than the Fed does.

“If we do see inflation coming down much more quickly, that will play into our policy setting, of course,” Powell said.

— Jesse Pound

Economy still in ‘early stage’ of easing inflation, Powell says

Powell acknowledged that there have been positive signs in recent employment reports even while labor data has remained strong but said it was too early to celebrate.

“It is a good thing that the disinflation that we have seen so far has not come at the expense of the labor market,” Powell said, but added that the economy was still in an “early stage” of easing inflation.

He said that a decline in goods prices and data showing recent softening of the rental housing market is a “good story.”

However, he said that the Fed doesn’t “see disinflation yet” in the core services part of inflation, excluding housing.

—Jesse Pound

Gold reaches intraday high not seen since April

Gold hit a session high not seen since April.

The metal traded as high as $1,956.60 during Wednesday trading. That’s the highest it has traded since April 22, 2022, when gold reached $1,957.80.

— Alex Harring, Gina Francolla

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