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Bank of Korea Holds Rates; Asia Markets Rise as Bitcoin Hits $30,000

Natthapol Bussai | Moment | Getty Images

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

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific mostly rose on Tuesday as the Bank of Korea held interest rates at 3.5%, in line with expectations. South Korea's central bank held rates for the second consecutive time as the nation grapples with an inflation rate of 4.2%.

South Korea's Kospi rose further after the move and traded 1.42% higher to 2,547.86 and the Kosdaq inched up 1.26% to 898.94.

Bitcoin surpassed $30,000 for the first time since June 2022 while ether neared $2,000.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 traded 1.26% higher to 7,309.9. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.05% to 27,923.37 and the Topix gained 0.78% to 1,991.85, led by technology and consumer cyclicals.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index pared earlier gains and last traded 0.7% higher in its final hour of trade.

Meanwhile, mainland China markets were mixed as the nation's inflation reading came in below expectations at 0.7%. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.05% to 3,313.6 and the Shenzhen Component ticked 0.04% higher to close at 11,877.15.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 ticked slightly higher as investors looked ahead to key inflation data this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3% while the Nasdaq Composite inched lower by 0.03% as tech stocks saw declines, including shares of Apple falling 1.6% and Google-parent Alphabet sliding 1.8%. 

Tesla shares fell 0.3% after the company said it will cut prices again on some electric vehicles

— CNBC's Tanaya Macheel, Sarah Min contributed to this report

Australia to suspend its WTO appeal against China's tariffs for three months

Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Trade Minister announced to suspend its appeal to the World Trade Organization against China's tariffs for three months.

The move comes just before the WTO was expected to deliver a finding over the dispute between the two countries, Australia's ABC reported.

Wong said that China agreed to conduct an "expedited review" of tariffs on Australian barley imports over the next three months, adding that the bilateral talks may help Australian producers return to the Chinese market quicker.

She said that bilateral negotiations might help Australian barley producers get back into the Chinese market much faster.

This could pave the way for the removal of tariffs on Australian wine, the ministers were quoted as saying.

— Jihye Lee

Bank of Korea expected to start cutting rates in Q1 2024, says Oxford Economics

South Korea's central bank is likely to maintain its benchmark interest rate at its current 3.5% as core inflation seems sticky, Oxford Economics told CNBC.

"I believe that the authorities think that the current settings will be able achieve the slowdown in the inflation that they're aiming for," said Sung Eun Jung of Oxford Economics.

She added that rate cuts "seem premature," for the central bank, while pointing to weakened domestic demand adding to bringing down inflation.

Oxford Economics is expecting the central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate by the first quarter of next year, she said.

South Korea's inflation stood at 4.2% compared to a year ago in its latest economic data release.

— Jihye Lee

Bitcoin tops $30,000 for the first time since June 2022

Bitcoin climbed on Monday evening, topping the key psychological level of $30,000 as investors awaited key inflation data later in the week that could steer crypto prices.

The largest cryptocurrency by market cap rose 7% to $30,193.25 for the first time since June, according to Coin Metrics. The U.S. consumer price index and producer price index due Wednesday and Thursday, respectively – will be key in determining if or when the Fed will pause or put an end to its rate hiking campaign.

Meanwhile, ether has been climbing ahead of its planned "Shanghai" tech upgrade, which is expected to bring a wave of negative sell pressure on the market as previously locked funds on Ethereum are released over the next few weeks. It advanced more than 3.5% to $1,925.11 for the first time since August as investors ahead of the upgrade, scheduled for Wednesday.

For more details, check out our full story here.

— Tanaya Macheel

Warren Buffett intends to add to Japanese stock holdings: Nikkei

Warren Buffett told Nikkei that he plans to add on to his holdings of Japanese stocks.

In a Nikkei interview, Buffett said that he is considering additional investment that would raise his holdings of five major trading houses in Japan, mentioning his 7.4% holding of Itochu.

Filings as of November last year showed Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway raised its stakes in Japan's leading trading houses by at least 1 percentage point to more than 6%.

Shares of Mitsubishi Corp. rose 2.33% in Japan's morning trade, Mitsui & Co. gained 2.56%, Itochu Corp rose 2.33% and Marubeni Corp. gained 2.97%.Sumitomo Corp. also rose 2.41%.

— Jihye Lee

Shares of Alibaba surged 3.12% after announcement of ChatGPT-style product

Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba rose 3.12% in early Tuesday trading after the Chinese tech giant's cloud computing subsidiary debuted its ChatGPT-style product Tongyi Qianwen.

Alibaba Cloud said in a statement that Tongyi Qianwen will be rolled out across all Alibaba products from e-commerce to search in the near future. Alibaba did not reveal a timeline.

"We are at a technological watershed moment driven by generative AI and cloud computing, and businesses across all sectors have started to embrace intelligence transformation to stay ahead of the game," said Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group and CEO of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, in a statement.

Alibaba is the latest Chinese player to unveil a ChatGPT clone after Baidu's Ernie Bot in March. Baidu continued to see losses of more than 4%.

— Sheila Chiang

China's inflation eases in March, producer prices decline further

China's inflation for March came in lower than expected at 0.7% against expectations of a 1% rise in its consumer price index compared to a year ago.

Producer price index also fell 2.5% year-on-year, in line with forecasts by Reuters and after seeing a decline of 1.4% in the previous month.

— Jihye Lee

Crypto check: Bitcoin surpasses $30,000 mark

Cryptocurrencies rose on Asia's Tuesday morning, with Bitcoin gaining by more than 7% in the past 24 hours to $30,190 according to Coin Metrics.

Bitcoin maintained the highest levels it's seen since June last year, when it last surpassed $30,000.

Ether also gained more than 3.78% to $1,923.59, hovering around below $2,000 level as well.

— Jihye Lee

South Korea holds rates a second time at 3.5%

The Bank of Korea held its interest rates steady at 3.5%, in line with expectations.

The Korean won slightly strengthened immediately after the move to 1319.68 against the U.S. dollar.

South Korea joins the likes of Australia and India in pausing its tightening cycle amid a global inflationary environment as the U.S. Federal Reserve is seen to maintain its hawkish stance.

— Jihye Lee

Newcrest receives offer from U.S. rival, stock jumps

Shares of Australian miner Newcrest Mining rose after it said it received a sweetened offer from its U.S. rival Newmont.

Newcrest rose more than 6% after the company published its latest offer from Newmont.

The revised takeover offer reflects a 16% increase to its initial offer and would include an implied an implied equity value of A$29.4 billion ($19.5 billion) and enterprise value of A$32.0 billion ($21.3 billion) for Newcrest.

— Jihye Lee

Bank of Japan governor emphasizes need to maintain easing policy: Nikkei

Bank of Japan governor Kazuo Ueda emphasized in his inaugural briefing his intention to "maintain unconventional monetary policies," Nikkei reported.

He said it is "appropriate" to maintain the central bank's current yield curve control policy and its negative interest rate policy, citing the current economic, financial and price conditions, Nikkei said.

He added that if the Bank of Japan can achieve its inflation goal of 2% that the central bank might need to normalize its policy, adding that it was difficult to set a timeline for when the Japanese economy would reach its target.

Japan's core consumer price index was at 3.1% year-on-year in March, on a downward trajectory from the previous month's acceleration of 4.2%.

The Japanese yen strengthened by 0.2% to 133.29 against the U.S. dollar in early Tuesday trade.

— Jihye Lee

Bank of Korea expected to pause for second time in April: Reuters

The Bank of Korea is expected to hold its benchmark interest rate steady at 3.5% again in its monetary policy decision on Tuesday, according to Reuters survey of economists.

DBS was the outlier in the survey and expects the BOK to raise rates by 25 basis points to 3.75%.

The South Korean central bank in its last meeting in February paused its tightening cycle after seven consecutive rate hikes since March 2022.

The Reuters poll also expects the central bank to start cutting rates by as much as 50 basis points in the first quarter of 2024 and even further in the third and fourth quarter of next year.

— Jihye Lee

CNBC Pro: Tesla's shares are up over 70% this year. One market pro is bullish — but another isn't convinced

Shares of electric vehicle giant Tesla have risen more than 70% this year, after falling 65% in 2022 in its largest-ever annual decline.

So is it time to buy the stock? Two investors faced off on CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" on Wednesday.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

CNBC Pro: Goldman Sachs names 5 buy-rated stocks — giving one more than 70% upside

Goldman Sachs revisited some of its stock ratings in light of recent volatility, sticking to some of them — and upgrading others.

Some of those stocks are on the conviction buy list of the Wall Street bank, which has raised some of their price targets, giving them big upside.

Here are five of the stocks, three of which are on Goldman's conviction buy list.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Why Wall Street views Samsung's production cuts as a positive tailwind for the sector

Samsung's move to cut memory chip production could fuel a sooner-than-expected recovery for the broader memory chip market, according to Wall Street.

Along with preliminary results pointing to a 96% drop in quarterly profit, the company said Friday it plans to cut production of two types of memory as it deals with a supply and demand mismatch.

Investors viewed the move as a potential positive for competitors, sending shares of Micron Technology and Western Digital up more than 8%. Citi analyst Christopher Danely called the news a "huge positive" for the dynamic random access memory industry.

Read more on why many on Wall Street are praising the move here.

— Samantha Subin

Stocks pull off worst levels during afternoon trading

Stocks came off their worst levels during afternoon trading. As of 2:13 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 46 points, or by 0.14%. The S&P 500 was lower by 0.11%, and the Nasdaq Composite fell by 0.28%.

At their lows of the session, the Dow was down as much as 141.86 points, or 0.42%. The S&P 500 declined by 0.79%, and the Nasdaq dropped 1.35%.

— Sarah Min

Movie theater stocks jump after success of Super Mario Bros. movie

Movie theater chains AMC Entertainment Holdings, Cinemark Holdings and IMAX shares jumped during midday trading on Monday following the successful opening of the "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."

Since its release on April 5, the movie has grossed more than $204 million in the U.S., according to data from Box Office Mojo. The film is distributed by Universal Pictures.

AMC shares advanced more than 6%, while Cinemark shares gained more than 5%. IMAX shares added 1.9%.

Disclaimer: Universal Pictures and CNBC are both owned by NBCUniversal.

— Sarah Min

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