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Standard Chartered shares jump as it raises forecast, announces $1 billion share buyback

Hong Kong-listed shares of Standard Chartered rose nearly 4% shortly after the firm raised its forecasts and announced a $1 billion share buyback in its fourth quarter results.

The bank saw a 28% jump in profits for the fourth quarter of 2022 and 18% for the full-year of 2022, the release said.

“We expect most of the markets in which we operate to continue their recent momentum with GDP growth in the Asian economies at above 5% over the next two years being pivotal to progressive global recovery,” the company said in its earnings statement.

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Coal prices seeing softness but outlook remains positive, Whitehaven CEO says

Coal prices are moderating but the outlook remains positive for the second half of the year, said Paul Flynn, CEO and managing director at Whitehaven Coal.

“You’ve seen coal prices come off their wonderful highs and are hovering more around $200 mark. Now that’s obviously, historically, a very good number still, and we’re very happy with that,” Flynn told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

Flynn explained a less severe winter in the northern hemisphere is contributing to the softness in coal prices.

“We’ve seen fantastic prices during the first six months. The second six months, I think will structurally be simpler, ” he said.

Flynn said the outlook for coal prices remained positive for the second half as the structural underpinnings improve during the course of the year.

— Sumathi Bala

ASML says ex-China employee had misappropriated data relating to its critical chip technology

Semiconductor company ASML said it recently discovered that a former employee in China had misappropriated data related to its proprietary technology.

“We have experienced unauthorized misappropriation of data relating to proprietary technology by a (now) former employee in China,” ASML said in its annual report.

Since 2018, the U.S. has reportedly put pressure on the Dutch government to stop ASML shipping EUV machines to China.

Shares of Chinese semiconductor firm SMIC traded 0.24% higher on Wednesday, and counterpart Hua Hong Semiconductor saw a 1.1% drop in its share price.

Market leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp, who is one of ASML’s customers, traded 0.76% higher.

—Arjun Kharpal, Lim Hui Jie

Japan trade deficit widens to almost $26 billion in January

Japan’s trade deficit has expanded to 3.5 trillion yen ($26 billion) for January, widening by 59% compared to the 2.2 trillion recorded in the same period a year ago, government data showed.

On an annualized basis, exports rose 3.5% higher at 6.55 trillion yen, while imports surged 17.8% to just over $10 trillion .

Following the announcement, the Japanese yen strengthened slightly against the US dollar, trading at 133.84.

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Australia jobs data upend expectations as unemployment comes in higher

Australia’s unemployment rate for January increased 0.2 percentage points from December 2022 to 3.7%, higher than economists expectations that it would remain flat at 3.5%.

This was the highest jobless rate since last May, as the number of unemployed climbed by 21,900 to 523,200.

Employment fell by about 11,500 people from December to January, in contrast to expectations that it would rise by 20,000. This was a 0.1% drop compared to December, but a 3% rise on an annualized basis.

Following this, the Australian dollar weakened against the US dollar, trading at 0.6872.

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CNBC Pro: Tech’s on a roll. But some market pros aren’t convinced

One of 2022’s worst-performing sectors is making quite a turnaround — investors are interested in tech again, after shunning it for the better part of last year.

But not everyone is convinced. “That enthusiasm for aggressive technology-oriented stocks in the last couple of months is exactly what you get in a bear market rally,” an investor tells CNBC.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

Bitcoin jumps to highest since mid-August 2022

Prices of Bitcoin and Etereum rose on Thursday – Bitcoin rising 11.28% in the past 24 hours to $24,637.75, according to prices by CoinMetrics. Ethereum gained 8.76% in the past 24 hours to $1,685.13.

Bitcoin last breached $25,000 on August 15, 2022, Refinitiv data showed.

CoinDesk reported the amount of traders liquidating saw a surge of over $60 million, citing data from Coinglass. Ethereum also hovered around the highest level since mid-August last year.

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CNBC Pro: This investor’s fund returned 15% in a bad year for stocks. He shares his playbook and bets for 2023

2022 was a bad year for stocks around the world: Both the S&P 500 and MSCI World index were down nearly 20% for the year.

Yet one Asia veteran investor managed to return around 15% for his fund.

Singapore-based investor Chua Soon Hock, founder and chief investment officer at Asia Genesis Asset Management, tells CNBC Pro about his best trades last year that contributed to his fund’s performance — and what he’s betting on this year.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Investors are taunting the Fed, top JPMorgan strategist says

JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic thinks investors are playing with fire, as stocks continue rising despite the Federal Reserve tightening monetary policy.

“There is an old adage, ‘don’t fight the Fed,’ but this behavior is not just fighting but also taunting the Fed with crypto, meme stocks, and unprofitable companies responding best to Fed communications,” Kolanovic, the bank’s chief global market strategist, said in a note to clients.

— Fred Imbert

Rally won’t last as Fed moves closer to 6% on interest rates, Niles says

The Federal Reserve could move interest rates closer to 6%, said Dan Niles, founder of the Satori Fund. And he said that could be bad news for those hoping for a continued market rally.

“I think the Fed, quite honestly, is going to get higher to 6% before they stop raising,” Niles said on CNBC’s “Tech Check.”

The central bank last hiked interest rates by 25 basis points at its meeting earlier this month. That moved the target rate for interest rates to between 4.5% and 4.75%.

Market observers and participants have disagreed on when the Fed will stop raising interest rates. Those predictions have helped drive positioning so far this year.

Meanwhile, the market has rallied since the start of the new year as investors looked past a negative 2022. The Nasdaq Composite has led the averages up, gaining 14.5% since the start of the year as investors grew increasingly optimistic about growth stocks on hopes that the Fed will change course on its interest rate hiking campaign.

But Niles said that rally may fade into the second half of the year, as data more clearly shows investors shouldn’t be overly optimistic just yet.

“A lot of things that are driving the market … so far in the first half of the year, you’re not going to be able to disprove until the back half of the year,” he said.

— Alex Harring

Stocks close higher after choppy day of trading

Stocks rallied into Wednesday’s close to end the day higher following a surprise beat on January’s retail sales report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 39 points, or 0.11%, rallying more than 250 points from its intraday low.

The S&P 500 ticked up 0.25%, lifted by shares of SolarEdge and Generac, which gained 9.05% and 8%, respectively. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.92%, boosted by shares of Airbnb, which surged 13.35% after beating earnings expectations. Gains in Tesla, Rivian and Lucid also helped lead the index higher.

So far, all three indexes are on track to end the week higher. The Dow is currently up 0.76% week to date, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are up 1.40% and 3.01% in the same timeframe.

—Carmen Reinicke

U.S. will default on its debt between July and September if Congress doesn’t raise debt ceiling, CBO says

The United States Treasury will exhaust its emergency measures to prevent a debt default sometime between July and September unless Congress raises the $31.4 trillion debt limit, the Congressional Budget Office projected Wednesday.

The latest projection notes that the final date will be determined by tax revenues the IRS receives in April. Should those revenues decline significantly from CBO’s estimates, “the extraordinary measures could be exhausted sooner, and Treasury could run out of funds before July,” CBO director Phillip Swagel said in a statement Wednesday.

The U.S. reached the current debt limit in January of this year, at which point Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen initiated a series of established steps, known as the “extraordinary measures,” that allowed the government to continue borrowing money to meet its obligations.

Read here for the full report.

— Christina Wilkie

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