Hong Kong leads Asian markets higher on Alibaba boost

AFP , Wednesday 29 Mar 2023

Asian stocks were broadly up on Wednesday to buck losses on Wall Street, led by massive gains for Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba after it announced it would split into six groups.

A currency trader watches monitors near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won, center, at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 29, 2023.(AP )


The Hangzhou-based firm said the changes were intended to "unlock shareholder value and foster market competitiveness".

Alibaba is one of China's most prominent tech firms, with operations spanning cloud computing, e-commerce, logistics, media and entertainment, and artificial intelligence.

By 2 pm Wednesday (0700 GMT), its Hong Kong-listed shares were up by more than 12 percent. Its New York-listed shares were also up in the previous session.

"Investors could get hyped on the positive side in the short term," said Willer Chen, senior research analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia.

"Alibaba's shakeup plan may also lead investors to think of the potential for other tech firms like Tencent to follow suit."

Tencent and Baidu also advanced.

At mid-afternoon, the Hang Seng Index was up by just under two percent, having troubled three percent earlier in the day.

The Nikkei 225 index had advanced 1.33 percent by the close in Tokyo, where Softbank -- which owns a large stake in Alibaba -- had risen by just over two percent.

Despite losses on Wall Street, the Tokyo market proved resilient as "excessive fears over the European financial system dwindled", IwaiCosmo Securities said.

There were gains on most other Asian bourses, though Shanghai posted small losses.

Following a flattish day in European markets on Tuesday, US stock indices finished modestly lower, shrugging off a better-than-expected consumer confidence reading.

The closely watched consumer confidence index increased in March to 104.2 from 103.4 last month, The Conference Board said in a statement.

"While consumers feel a bit more confident about what's ahead, they are slightly less optimistic about the current landscape," said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director for economics at The Conference Board.

The gains followed last week's rout over concerns that the turmoil in the banking sector -- which sparked the UBS takeover of Credit Suisse -- could hit other major institutions, such as German giant Deutsche Bank.

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, whose institution ramped up interest rates last week, sounded a note of caution over banking-sector upheaval.

"We are very vigilant. We are in a period of tension, tightness and alertness," he told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

He added: "My very strong view about the UK banking system is that it is in a strong position, both capital and liquidity wise."

- Key figures around 0700 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.33 percent at 27,883.78 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.77 percent at 20,135.73

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.12 percent at 3,241.33

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,484.25 (close)

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 32,394.25 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0826 from $1.0839

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2325 from $1.2328

Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.84 pence from 87.92 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 131.90 yen from 131.63 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.74 percent at $73.74 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.50 percent at $79.04 per barrel

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