Asian Shares Mixed As Investors Await U.S. Inflation Data

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Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, with Chinese and Hong Kong stocks rising after China's securities watchdog pledged a slew of measures to shore up confidence in the region's worst performing stock market.

The dollar was on the backfoot and U.S. Treasury yields remained sidelined, while gold attempted a recovery from a three-month low ahead of U.S. inflation data due later in the day. Economists predict an annual increase of 8.1 percent compared to the 8.5 percent rise recorded in March.

Oil prices rose about 2 percent in Asian trading after two days of steep losses amid uncertainty over a Russian energy embargo by the EU and worries about prolonged COVID lockdowns in Shanghai.

China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.8 percent to 3,058.70 amid signs of declining virus cases on the mainland and expectations that authorities will opt for more stimulus spending to counter the impact of shutdowns in many major cities.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1 percent to 19,824.57 after the release of mixed Chinese inflation data. China's consumer inflation edged up in April amid lockdowns, while factory inflation eased to the slowest in a year, data showed earlier in the day.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Index ended a choppy session 0.2 percent higher at 26,213.64 as investors scooped up companies with a positive outlook. Toyota Motor plunged 4.4 percent after warning that "unprecedented" hikes in raw materials and logistics costs could slice a fifth off its full-year profit.

Sony Group rallied 2.1 percent after its operating profit more than doubled in the fourth quarter. Nintendo gained 3.3 percent on stock-split news. Yokogawa Electric soared 2.8 percent after posting a 10 percent rise in its annual net profit.

Australian markets eked out modest gains, with mining and healthcare stocks leading the advance. Banks led losses, with NAB tumbling 3.9 percent on going ex-dividend. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index inched up 0.2 percent to settle at 7,064.70.

Biopharmaceutical firm CSL rose 2.1 percent after a favorable court ruling banning plasma donations by Mexican nationals entering the country on a B1/B2 visa.

New Zealand shares ended little changed with a positive bias after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country would fully reopen its international borders from end-July.

Seoul stocks extended losses for the seventh day running on concerns over high inflation and a global economic downturn.

The Kospi slipped 0.2 percent to 2,592.27, dragged down by financials. Leading container shipper HMM jumped 3.7 percent and CJ Logistics surged 4.5 percent.

U.S. stocks fluctuated before closing mixed overnight as Fed officials backed half-point hikes at the June and July meetings, adding the board would not rule out a 75 basis point hike.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1 percent and the S&P 500 edged up 0.3 percent amid bottom-fishing, while the Dow eased 0.3 percent.

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