Asian Markets Take a Breather

Stocks closed out the session mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday as investors turned cautious despite Wall Street's extended winning streak. Chinese stocks however were buoyed by surging oil prices.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3 percent to 23,788.20 while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong climbed 0.2 percent to 31,073.72 and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.2 percent to 3,421.83.

China reported that its consumer price index edged up to 1.8 percent in December from 1.7 percent the month before, driven by higher food prices. But broader gauges showed price pressures easing. "Looking ahead, we think that food prices aside, inflation will continue to drop back in the coming quarters as economic activity softens," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics.

Financials led the charge, with HSBC up 1.5% to another three-year high, and Chinese majors rising as much as 2%.


Australia’s S&P ASX 200 slipped 0.6 percent to 6,096.70.

Korea’s Kospi shed 0.4% as Samsung Electronics slid a further 2.5%. The index heavyweight had fallen 3% Tuesday after its fourth-quarter earnings estimate fell short of analysts’ expectations.