Asia Mostly Higher, Hong Kong Stumbles

Asia-Pacific markets traded mostly up Wednesday but shares on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong lost ground.

The Nikkei 225 regained 34.16 points, or 0.1%, Wednesday to 29,730.79.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 109.84 per U.S. dollar, weakening from an earlier level around 109.56.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index returned from a long weekend to dump 263.94 points, or 0.9%, to 28,674.80.

Korean markets forged higher. Samsung Electronics shares dipped 0.5% after the chip and smartphone maker issued earnings guidance for the first three months of 2021.

Samsung said it estimated operating profit for the quarter at 9.3 trillion Korean won ($8.3 billion U.S.), up 44% from a year ago. The company did not give a detailed breakdown, which is due at the end of this month.

Australian markets advanced, with all sectors closing higher. Major banking stocks reversed earlier losses to finish in the green: ANZ shares rose 0.3%, the National Australia Bank added 0.4%, Westpac was up 0.6% while Commonwealth Bank shares advanced 0.6%.

The World Bank/International Monetary Fund spring meeting is underway virtually.

The IMF revised up its forecast for the world economy. On Tuesday, the organization said it expects growth at 6% in 2021, up from a January prediction of 5.5%, and Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said that despite lingering uncertainties around the pandemic, a "way out of this health and economic crisis is increasingly visible."

Analysts at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a Wednesday note that they do not expect the World Bank/IMF meeting to be a major driver of financial markets.

The Australian dollar traded down by 0.43% at $0.7632.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 fell 36.3 points, or 0.7%, to 5,103.74.

In Singapore, the Straits Times index fell 11.87 points, or 0.4%, to 3,195.76.

In Korea, the Kospi index gained 10.33 points, or 0.3%, to 3,137.41.

In Taiwan, the Taiex index hiked 75.49 points, or 0.5%, to 16,815.36.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 recovered 87.11 points, or 0.7%, to 12,487.59.

In Australia, the ASX 200 added 42.16 points, or 0.6%, to 6,928.02.