Asia Mixed as Investors Weigh Fed Minutes

Stocks in Asia were mixed on Thursday following an earlier slip in the morning as traders digest a release from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 32.74 points, or 0.2%, to 21,464.23. Shares of Japanese conglomerate Softbank Group, however, slipped 1.6%.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.81 against the U.S. dollar after touching an earlier session high of 110.58.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng leaped 115.87 points, or 0.4%, to 28,629.92.

Hong Kong-listed shares of computer maker Lenovo surged more than 12% after the company announced a return to profit in the third quarter, surpassing market expectations. Profit for the quarter was $233 million, versus a loss of $289 million in the same period a year earlier when the world's largest personal computer maker by shipments took a one-off hit, following U.S. tax reform.

Korean markets were flat, with shares of Samsung Electronics rising 0.1% after the company unveiled its new series of Galaxy smartphones.

Australian markets gained, as the heavily weighted financial sub-index added about 1.5%. Shares of the country's so-called Big Four banks gained: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group advanced 1.8%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 2%, Westpac gained 1.3% and National Australia Bank edged up 0.7%

The moves followed the release of minutes from the Fed's January meeting, which highlighted downside risks, including "the possibilities of a sharper-than-expected slowdown in global economic growth, particularly in China and Europe, a rapid waning of fiscal policy stimulus, or a further tightening of financial market conditions."

The minutes showed extensive discussion of market conditions, particularly on the emphasis that Fed actions were having on prices of risky assets like stocks and corporate bonds.

The Fed also judged that a "patient" approach to interest rate hikes would be prudent as it continued to weigh various headwinds to growth.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7130 U.S. after seeing an earlier session high of $0.7207.


In China, the CSI 300 lost 9.22 points, or 0.3%, to 3,442.71

The onshore Chinese yuan traded at 6.7069 against the greenback while its offshore counterpart changed hands at 6.7058.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index removed 1.1 points to 2,228.66

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dipped 0.47 points to 3,277.91

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index acquired 47.07 points, or 0.5%, to 10,319.53

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 51.37 points, or 0.6%, to 9,300.81

In Australia, the ASX 200 recovered 42.76 points, or 0.7%, to 6,139.25