Markets

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index Surges 9%, Best Day Since October 2008 as Tencent, Alibaba Jump More Than 23%

Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images
  • Shares in Asia-Pacific were higher in Wednesday trade, as Chinese stocks saw a strong rebound following recent heavy losses..
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 9.08% higher on Wednesday but remains down more than 2% for the week after seeing heavy losses on Monday and Tuesday.
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to announce its latest interest rate decision. The central bank is widely expected to raise rates by a quarter point, its first hike since 2018.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were higher in Wednesday trade, as Chinese stocks saw a strong rebound following recent heavy losses.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 9.08% higher at 20,087.50 — its best day since Oct. 30, 2008, when it gained 12.82%. Still, the benchmark index is down more than 2% so far this week after seeing heavy losses on Monday and Tuesday.

Chinese tech stocks in Hong Kong saw big gains, as shares of Chinese tech giant Tencent rose 23.15%, Alibaba soared 27.3% and NetEase jumped 23.4%. The Hang Seng Tech index surged 22.2% to 4,243.39.

Mainland Chinese stocks also saw robust gains as the Shanghai composite climbed 3.48% to close at 3,170.71 and the Shenzhen component soared 4.019% to 12,000.96.

The bulk of the gains Wednesday came after a Chinese state media report signaled support for Chinese stocks. U.S. and Chinese regulators are progressing toward a cooperation plan on U.S.-listed Chinese stocks, the report said, citing a financial stability meeting Wednesday chaired by Vice Premier Liu He.

The report said Beijing supported Chinese stock listings overseas, and would work towards stability in Hong Kong's financial market as well as the struggling real estate sector.

Chinese tech stocks have been under pressure in recent days amid multiple concerns, including a Wall Street Journal report that Tencent could face a record fine for violating anti-money laundering rules.

Fears of U.S.-listed Chinese firms being delisted stateside also recently resurfaced after the Securities and Exchange Commission identified five U.S.-listed American depositary receipts of Chinese companies that failed to comply with the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, further weighing on investor sentiment.

The sharp reversal comes as investors continue to monitor the pandemic situation in the country, with China grappling with its most severe Covid outbreak since the height of the pandemic in 2020, with major cities scrambling to limit business activity.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 climbed 1.64% to close at 25,762.01 while the Topix index gained 1.46% to 1,853.25. South Korea's Kospi advanced 1.44% on the day to 2,659.23.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.1%, closing at 7,175.20. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan soared 4.15%.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours of Wednesday, after tumbling on Tuesday and continuing its recent fall, which has been attributed in part to the Covid resurgence in China.

International benchmark Brent crude futures gained 3.71% to $103.62 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also rose, climbing 2.79% to $99.13 per barrel.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 599.10 points, or 1.82%, to 33,544.34. The S&P 500 index climbed 2.14% to 4,262.45 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 2.92% to 12,948.62.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to announce its latest interest rate decision Wednesday stateside. The central bank is widely expected to raise rates by a quarter point, its first hike since 2018.

Meanwhile, the Russian state is due to pay $117 million in interest on two sovereign eurobonds on Wednesday, the first of four payment dates to creditors in March alone as the country faces the prospect of defaulting on its debt. That comes after international sanctions on Russia's central bank have blocked off a substantial portion of the country's foreign exchange reserves following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 98.921 — above levels below 98 seen last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 118.34 per dollar, still weaker as compared with levels below 116.1 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7225 after recently slipping from above $0.72.

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng, Elliot Smith contributed to this report.

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