Asia markets mixed as Wall Street rally falters; India inflation data on deck

Thu, Mar 14 2024 3:49 AM EDT

India’s wholesale inflation slows more than expected in February

India’s wholesale inflation slowed more than expected to 0.20% in February, and also came in lower than the 0.27% seen in January.

A Reuters poll of economists had expected wholesale inflation of 0.25%.

This inflation rate measures price changes at the wholesale level, primarily focusing on goods traded among businesses.

India’s commerce and industry ministry said the inflation was driven by increase in prices of food articles, crude petroleum and electricity, among others.

— Lim Hui Jie

Thu, Mar 14 2024 12:13 AM EDT

India’s Reliance to acquire Paramount’s stake in Viacom18 for $517 million

India’s Reliance Industries has agreed to purchase Paramount Global’s entire 13.01% stake in Indian media company Viacom18 Media for around $517 million, according to Paramount’s SEC filing.

Paramount said the deal was subject to regulatory conditions, as well as the completion of a previously announced joint venture involving Reliance, Viacom18 and Star Disney. The company added it will still license its content to Viacom18.

In February, Disney announced that Reliance will invest about $1.4 billion in a joint venture that will combine the businesses of Viacom18 and Disney’s Star India. 

Shares of Reliance were up 0.24%.

Wed, Mar 13 2024 11:50 PM EDT

South Korea’s National Pension Service supports push to fix ‘Korea discount’: Reuters

South Korea’s National Pension Service has expressed support for the government’s plan to resolve the so-called “Korea discount” in the country’s stock markets.

This discount refers to South Korean companies’ lower valuations compared with global peers, due to various factors including opaque corporate governance and complex shareholding practices among the country’s large family owned conglomerates, known as chaebols.

NPS will “make a decision on whether and to what extent it will allocate its assets after details of the reform plan are available,” said Lee Suc-won, NPS investment strategy director, according to a Reuters report.

Lee referred to the the country’s Financial Services Commission’s “Corporate Value-up Program,” which was launched in February with the aim of improving companies’ valuations in the South Korean market, boosting shareholder returns and stock prices.

To find out more about the “Korea discount”, read here.

— Reuters

Wed, Mar 13 2024 10:06 PM EDT

Singtel among top losers on Straits Times Index after it denies Optus talks

Shares of Singapore telecommunications operator Singtel slid 1.2% in early trading, putting it among the top losers on the country’s Straits Times Index.

This comes after the company refuted a report in the Australian Financial Review that said Singtel was in advanced talks to offload its Australian subsidiary Optus for 16 million Singapore dollars ($12.01 million).

In a filing, Singtel said “there is no impending deal to offload Optus for the said sum,” adding that the company remains an “integral and strategic part” of Singtel. “We are committed to Australia for the long term,” the Singapore telco said.

It said the current focus was on improving Optus’ network resilience and finding a CEO for Optus after Kelly Bayer Rosmarin stepped down in November.

However, Singtel also highlighted “That said, we regularly conduct strategic reviews of our portfolio to optimize the value of our assets and businesses and will explore all options to maximize shareholder value.”

Wed, Mar 13 2024 9:21 PM EDT

Shares of Australian gold miners rise as bullion nears all-time high

Shares of Australian gold miners surged as spot gold prices neared all-time highs of $2,182.19 per ounce. Gold was trading at $2,174.89 per ounce on Thursday, less than $10 per ounce off its record.

At 11:36 a.m. Sydney time, Evolution Mining, the third largest gold company on the ASX by market cap was up 6.9%, although this move was also fueled by board director Jason Attew buying 10,935 shares in the company.

Sector heavyweight Northern Star Resources was up 1.25%, while another top gainer was Bellevue Gold, which rose 3.49%.

Wed, Mar 13 2024 1:27 PM EDT

U.S. Steel shares drop after Biden expresses concern over proposed Nippon takeover

The United States Steel Corp. Edgar Thomson Works steel mill in Braddock, Pennsylvania, US, on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. 

Justin Merriman | Bloomberg | Getty Images | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of United States Steel Corp. plunged 11.4% on news that President Joe Biden plans to express “serious concern” over its proposed acquisition by Nippon Steel Corp., the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

The White House had said in December that the deal, worth $14.9 billion, warrants scrutiny given U.S. Steel’s integral role in producing a material vital to national security, and in terms of the deal’s potential impact on “supply chain reliability.” Nippon Steel is Japan’s largest steelmaker.

— Pia Singh

Wed, Mar 13 2024 7:39 PM EDT

CNBC Pro: Chinese stocks are ‘a risk worth taking,’ asset manager says — naming 2 he likes

Asset manager Jason Hsu sees promise in Chinese stocks – naming short and longer-term opportunities to play the market.

“Chinese stocks are trading at the cheapest they’ve ever been. They offer such a big discount and are certainly good investments within a portfolio. There is a risk with China – with how the economy will take form – but with stocks being so cheap, it is a risk worth taking,” Hsu, who is the chairman and chief investment officer at Rayliant Global Advisors told CNBC Pro on Mar. 13.

“I’m always of the view that if you wait around for all the ambiguity or uncertainty to be over – the opportunities will be gone. Everyone is sure that China is going to be back in the race. So, the fact that there is a lot of negative sentiment now means you’re getting a big discount for holding on for future growth in China,” he added, naming two stocks on his radar.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Amala Balakrishner

Wed, Mar 13 2024 3:08 PM EDT

Oil prices jump more than 2% after Ukraine strikes Russian oil refineries

A man cleans up at an oil depot hit by recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, December 7, 2023.

Valery Melnikov | Reuters

Crude oil futures jumped Wednesday after Ukraine struck refineries in Russia, underlining risks to production and fuel supplies from the war in Eastern Europe.

The West Texas Intermediate contract for April gained $2.16, or 2.78%, to settle at $79.72 a barrel. The Brent contract for May added $2.11, or 2.58%, to settle at $84.03 a barrel.

Ukrainian drones hit a Rosneft refinery in the Ryazan region about 130 miles from Moscow and the Novoshakhtinsk refinery in the Rostov region, according to Reuters. The strikes came one day after Ukraine hit a Lukoil refinery in Nizhny Novgorod, about 265 miles from Moscow.

“We’re seeing oil prices rise, really being led by products on the back of these attacks which have been going on with some regularity since January,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “The market is pricing in higher and higher probabilities of supply disruptions especially when you damage refineries.”

— Spencer Kimball

Wed, Mar 13 2024 3:31 PM EDT

AI could help drive EBITDA growth for several gig economy stocks, Barclays says

One of the leading emerging use cases for AI could be automating customer support requests, according to Barclays.

Barclays analysts estimated that for companies in the gig economy, AI could help drive more than 200 basis points of margin improvement from automating requests. The cost per human interaction for completed service requests is $6, while the cost per AI interaction is as low as $1 — and could fall even lower in the future, the firm found.

Analyst Ross Sandler named several companies, including Lyft and Roblox, that stand to benefit from this automation trend. For more, read here.

— Pia Singh

Wed, Mar 13 2024 1:29 PM EDT

Tesla headed for lowest close since in nearly a year

Tesla shares lost 3% on Wednesday, putting them on track to close at their lowest level since May 2023.

The EV maker was under pressure after Wells Fargo downgraded it to underweight from equal weight. In a note, Wells noted: “TSLA’s growth in core markets has moderated with EU & China flattish in the [last 12 months] & the US down since Q2. More concerning, the effect of price cuts are moderating with 2H volume up only 3% [half over half] despite pricing that’s down 5% h/h.”

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