Asia Markets Trade Mixed as Fed Officials Seem Divided on Rate Hikes Ahead

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This is CNBC's live blog covering Asia-Pacific markets.

Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Wednesday as Wall Street's earnings season continued and U.S. Federal Reserve officials delivered mixed signals on future rate hikes.

Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic told CNBC that he sees one more rate hike of 25 basis points, before pausing to see its impact on the economy. This would take the U.S. Federal Funds rate to 5% to 5.25%.

Bostic's words come as St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told Reuters that he favors a higher terminal rate of between 5.50% and 5.75%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 closed marginally up at 7,362.3, while Japan's Nikkei 225 dipped 0.18% to end the day at 28.606.76. The Topix fell 0.02% to finish at 2,040.38.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.16% to end at 2,575.08, while the Kosdaq was also up marginally and closed at 909.2.

Mainland Chinese markets were all lower, with the Shanghai Composite down 0.68% to finish at 3,370.13 and the Shenzhen Component fell 0.84% to close at 11,760.27. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 1.23% lower, and the Hang Seng Tech index lost 2.3%.

Overnight in the US, all three major indexes traded close to the flatline as investors digested earnings reports, including from Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. The S&P 500 was up 0.09%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.03%, and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.04%.

— CNBC's Samatha Subin and Sarah Min contributed to this report

Netflix's 'stellar loyalty metrics' suggest password-sharing users could upgrade: Sensor Tower

Netflix's "stellar loyalty metrics" give confidence that password-sharing users would convert to full or ad supported users, said a Sensor Tower executive.

"We see Netflix continuing to have best in class loyalty and engagement amongst the streamers which should give the company some confidence that previous users who have been sharing passwords
would convert to full or ad supported users because of Netflix's content," said Anthony Bartolacci, senior vice president mobile app data and insights provider Sensor Tower, on CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" Wednesday.

His comments come after Netflix posted mixed financial results and said it was pushing back its password-sharing rollout.

He added Netflix has "really positive indicators" of customer engagement like "10-15% better churn analysis metric" and "better time spent" than its competitors Hulu, Disney and Amazon Prime.

"I do think those loyalty metrics are really stellar for Netflix. It kind of is able to implement these password sharing restrictions. There's definitely benefit from an overall profitability perspective," he said.

— Sheila Chiang

India's smartphone shipments fall 20% in first quarter as global market sheds 12%: Canalys

India's smartphone market shipments saw a 20% drop year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023, according to Canalys.

"The market is still witnessing uneven demand woes and channels remain vulnerable to stock build-up," it said in a Wednesday release.

This comes after the agency said global smartphone shipments fell 12% year-on-year in the first quarter, marking a fifth straight period of declines.

"Despite price cuts and heavy promotions from vendors, consumer demand remained sluggish, particularly in the low-end segment due to high inflation affecting consumer confidence and spending," Canalys analyst Sanyam Chaurasia said.

– Jihye Lee

Malaysia trade falls slightly in March, imports come in lower than expectations

Malaysia's total trade in March came in at RM232.7 billion ($52.51 billion), 1.6% lower as compared to the total value of RM236.5 billion seen in the same month of preceding year.

While exports from the country dropped by 1.4% year on year to RM129.7 billion in March, smaller than the 3.5% fall anticipated by economists, imports posted a surprise as it recorded a fall of 1.8% to RM103 billion, compared to a 1.9% growth expected.

Malaysia said this was due to imports of intermediate goods falling by 8.7% in March compared to a year ago.

The country's trade balance climbed 0.2% year on year to a surplus of RM26.7 billion, higher than economists expectations of RM21.1 billion.

— Lim Hui Jie

JPMorgan, Citi, UBS upgrades full-year forecasts for China

Analysts at JPMorgan, Citi and UBS raised their full-year forecasts for China's economy after it delivered an impressive first-quarter gross domestic product growth of 4.5% on Tuesday.

JPMorgan raised its 2023 growth outlook to 6.4%, up from a previous forecast of 6%, saying the latest quarterly report points to further growth ahead.

Citi economists also raised its full-year outlook to 6.1% from 5.7% year-on-year, saying China's consumption recovery is "halfway."

UBS also raised its forecast for the year from 5.4% to 5.7%, saying "given the stronger-than-expected recovery in Q1 2023, driven by both a robust rebound in consumption and property."

– Jihye Lee

Gogoro's battery swapping stations in Taiwan to serve as virtual power plants

Taiwan's Gogoro plans to integrate its battering swapping stations into virtual power plants for "stress management" for electric grids, according to the CEO. 

The company is partnering with Enel X, an energy services provider, for the commercial deployment of 2,500 of its swap stations across 1,000 locations in Enel X's virtual power plants.

"We help the grid basically to fulfil those stress that it they don't have to build the extra capacity in order to service the balance and stabilize the grid," Horace Luke, Gogoro's CEO and founder, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Wednesday. "So really it's a stress management for the grid." 

Luke added the company has plans to expand the service across Asia, and is running a pilot in India. 

"We're taking this model and applying it to every country that we're going to at this point," he said. 

— Sumathi Bala

Hang Seng leads losses in Asia as tech and real estate firms decline

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index led losses in the Asia-Pacific region on Wednesday, dragged down by technology and real estate firms.

According to Refinitiv data, tech firms and real estate companies were the largest losers on the index, with names like Country Garden Holdings, Baidu and Tencent among the top losers.

However, the company that saw the largest loss was automaker Geely, which fell 3.95%.

— Lim Hui Jie

Yellen to lay out U.S. economy priorities on China in speech: Reuters

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will deliver in a speech the economic priorities for the U.S. on China, Reuters reported.

"During her remarks, Secretary Yellen will underscore that in its bilateral relationship with China, the United States proceeds with confidence about the enduring fundamental strength of our economy," Reuters said, citing a statement from the Treasury Department.

This comes after Yellen said that the U.S. will resume economic talks with China "at an appropriate time" earlier this year as Beijing continues to sell its vast stock of U.S. Treasurys.

Yellen will deliver a speech at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies on Thursday, the report said.

– Jihye Lee

Japan's Sumitomo Financial to become first major bank to issue $1 billion of AT1 bonds: Nikkei

Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group is set to become the first major bank to issue Additional Tier 1 bonds since the banking turmoil suffered by Swiss lender Credit Suisse, Nikkei reported.

SMFG will issue 140 billion yen ($1 billion) of these bonds, commonly known as AT1 bonds. They are considered a relatively risky form of junior debt, therefore come with a higher yield and are often bought by institutional investors.

Confidence in AT1 bonds were shaken after Swiss authorities forced the Credit Suisse to write down the value of its AT1 bonds to zero as part of a government-orchestrated rescue by its bigger rival UBS.

Nikkei said the terms of SMFG's offer will be decided on Wednesday, adding that its AT1 bonds will carry a spread of 171 basis points over government debt, representing an increase of 33 basis points from the previous issuance in December.

SMFG shares were trading 0.25% up on Wednesday.

— Lim Hui Jie

Dow is up more than 2% so far this month

With slightly more than half of the trading month completed, the Dow is up 2.1%.

April has historically been the best month of the year for the 30-stock index, with an average advance of 1.9% going back to 1950. By comparison, the Dow has added just 0.7% when averaging all months in that time period.

Previous pre-election years are typically even better for April. The Dow has gained 3.9% when averaging every April in the years proceeding an election since 1950.

With the 2.1% advance, the Dow has performed the best of the three major indexes so far this month. The S&P 500 has gained 1%, while the Nasdaq Composite has shed 0.7%.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more about why April is the best month for the blue-chip index here.

— Alex Harring

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan says he sees a relatively mild recession

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said Tuesday he sees only a slight recession hitting the U.S. as consumers remain in solid shape.

"Everything points to a relatively mild recession given the amount of stimulus that was paid to people and the money they have left over," Moynihan said in the bank's quarterly earnings call. "At the end of the day, we don't see the activity on the consumer side slowing at a pace that would indicate that, but we would see commercial customers are being more careful."

Moynihan said that Bank of America's research team has been consistent in calling for a mild downturn in light of the Federal Reserve's aggressive rate hikes. The bank is predicting annualized GDP contraction in the range of half to 1 percentage point in the next three quarters before going back to positive growth, he said.

— Yun Li

CNBC Pro: Bank of America is doubling down on this semiconductor stock — and gives it 50% upside

Semiconductor stocks are on a roll this year after a difficult 2022.

The iShares Semiconductor ETF, which tracks the sector, is up about 22% in the year to date — nearly three times the return of the S&P 500 this year.

Nvidia has undoubtedly been one of the sector's biggest winners this year, but Bank of America is doubling down on a lesser-known chip stock.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

Chip stocks rise after HSBC double-upgrades Nvidia

Some chip stocks rose Tuesday, after HSBC double-upgraded Nvidia shares to buy from reduce.

The firm said that "Nvidia's incredible AI pricing power (is) not fully priced in," and that artificial intelligence will provide a significant boost to chip prices. The move lifted shares about 3%.

Other semiconductor companies saw their shares rise after the optimistic upgrade. ON Semiconductor Corp and Advanced Micro Devices were up 1.3% and 0.8%, respectively. Shares of Applied Materials also gained 0.45%. 

— Hakyung Kim

CNBC Pro: These 6 global stocks are 'Buffett-style' picks, according to Credit Suisse

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway raised its stakes in five Japan stocks — a good sign for investors in Japan, according to Credit Suisse.

In light of those developments, Credit Suisse analysts said in a note that they've screened for stocks in Japan that are "Buffett-style picks" — that is, they have characteristics typical of Buffett's holdings.

Here are six of them.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

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