Asia-Pacific stocks lower, as stronger-than-expected U.S. retail sales boost Wall Street

  • Asia-Pacific stocks were lower on Wednesday, as markets in the U.S. were lifted on the back of stronger-than-expected retail sales data.
  • In earnings, Chinese tech giant Baidu is set to announce its third-quarter results later on Wednesday.
  • U.S. stocks, which had been in a rut in recent days after touching records earlier this month, were given a boost by retail sales data.

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific stocks started mixed on Wednesday before trending lower, as markets in the U.S. were lifted on the back of stronger-than-expected retail sales data.

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell nearly 0.3% after trading in positive territory earlier, while the Topix traded 0.4% lower.

South Korea's Kospi was down 0.81%.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was also lower, and slipped about 0.31%. Financials slid, with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia leading losses as its shares plummeted 6.5%.

News in the region may boost sentiment, after New Zealand's Prime Minister announced that the country's largest city Auckland will reopen its domestic borders from Dec. 15 for fully vaccinated people and those with negative Covid test results, according to a Reuters report.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.26%.

In earnings, Chinese tech giant Baidu is set to announce its third-quarter results later on Wednesday.

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U.S. stocks, which were in a rut in recent days after touching records earlier this month, were given a boost by retail sales data. The latest retail sales figures for October showed consumers were increasing their spending, with sales jumping 1.7% compared to a 0.8% increase in the prior month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 54.77 points, or 0.15%, to 36,142.22. The S&P 500 gained 0.39% to 4,700.90, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.76% to 15,973.86. 

"The strength in the US economic activity, combined with the above‑target inflation, might increase pressure on the [Federal Open Market Committee] to quicken the pace of its tapering of asset purchases," the Commonwealth Bank of Australia wrote in a note on Wednesday.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.915, jumping from levels above 95.5 earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.72 per dollar, weakening from previous levels of around 114.1. The Australian dollar was at $0.7286, sliding from levels around $0.73 earlier.

U.S. WTI crude dropped 0.68% to $80.21 per barrel in the morning during Asia hours.

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