Mainland Chinese stocks declined on the day, with the Shanghai composite declining 1.6 percent to 3,189.96 and the Shenzhen component slipping about 2.65 percent to 10,158.40. The Shenzhen composite also fell 2.187 percent to 1,740.37.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.81 percent in its final hour of trading. Chinese tech giant Tencent’s stock rose more than 1 percent, earlier crossing the 400 Hong Kong dollar per share mark for the first time since June 2018.
The moves in China came after the country’s consumer inflation in March touched a 5-month high on the back of higher food prices.
“We continue to forecast CPI will be 2.1% in 2019. But we acknowledge upside risks to consumer inflation because pork inflation could jump further because of a shortage of pigs,” Kevin Xie, China economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a note.
The broader MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was 0.49 percent lower at 541.20, as of 3.26 p.m. HK/SIN.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.11 percent higher at 21,711.38 as shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing added 0.51 percent, while the Topix index fell slightly to finish its trading day at 1,606.52.
Over in South Korea, the Kospi closed virtually flat at 2,224.44.
In Australia, the ASX 200 shed 0.4 percent to close at 6,198.70. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Thursday that a general election was set for May 18.
On the U.S.-China trade front, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday that Washington and Beijing have “pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism” for when a deal is struck.
Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart
|NIKKEI||Nikkei 225 Index||NIKKEI||21870.56||159.18||0.73|
|HSI||Hang Seng Index||HSI||29909.76||70.31||0.24|
|ASX 200||S&P/ASX 200||ASX 200||6251.30||52.60||0.85|
|CNBC 100||CNBC 100 ASIA IDX||CNBC 100||8162.45||16.13||0.20|
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said this development provides an “additional six months for the UK to find the best possible solution.”
The emergency summit was convened after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May requested a further delay to the U.K.’s departure from the bloc. U.K. lawmakers have rejected May’s agreement three times but they’ve also failed to reach a majority in support of alternative options.
“Financial markets may get a short-term reprieve from the EU’s agreement to extend the Brexit deadline till 31 October,” analysts at OCBC Treasury Research wrote in a morning note.
The British pound last traded at $1.3085 following the announcement, after seeing an earlier high of $1.3108.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank also turned dovish, holding rates as its president Mario Draghi warned of downside risks, citing “slower growth momentum” in the eurozone. Last month, the U.S. Federal Reserve had decided to maintain interest rates and hold off on any further increases this year.
But minutes of the Fed’s March monetary policy meeting released on Wednesday revealed that Fed officials are leaving room for possible interest rate hikes by the end of the year but currently do not expect to make any changes.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.880, following a spike to the 97.2 handle yesterday.
The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 111.14 against the dollar after seeing an earlier high of 110.89. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7158 after climbing from levels below $0.712 yesterday.
Oil prices declined in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract slipping 0.5 percent to $71.37 per barrel and U.S. crude futures falling 0.62 percent to $64.21 per barrel.
— CNBC’s Michael Sheetz, Holly Ellyatt, Silvia Amaro and Christine Wang contributed to this report.
Correction: This report was updated to reflect that the British pound saw an earlier high of $1.3108.