Most Asian stocks rose on Friday as a positive, AI-fuelled outlook from TSMC spurred a rebound in the technology sector, although weakness in China and uncertainty over interest rates put most bourses on course for a weekly loss.

Regional markets also took some positive cues from Wall Street, which rebounded on Thursday after growing doubts over early interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve spurred a series of steep losses. Wall Street indexes were also set for a negative week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was the best regional performer for the day, rising 1.6% and once again coming in sight of a 34-year high. The index, along with the broader TOPIX, remained an outlier among its peers and was headed for a 1.3% gain this week.

Data on Friday showed Japanese consumer price index (CPI) inflation fell as expected in December, setting the stage for an ultra-dovish Bank of Japan when it meets next week.

Tech stocks were the best performers in Japan on Friday, with Ascentech KK (TYO:3565), BELLSYSTEM24 Holdings Inc (TYO:6183) and Advantest Corp. (TYO:6857) surging between 8% to 15%.

Asian tech surges as TSMC touts AI demand
Broader Asian technology stocks also clocked strong gains on Friday tracking a positive forecast from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TW:2330) (NYSE:TSM), the world’s largest contract chipmaker.

TSMC rose over 5% in Taiwan trade to a near two-year high, after the firm said it was well-positioned to capitalize on a boom in artificial intelligence development over the coming year.

The chipmaker also clocked a smaller-than-expected decline in its fourth-quarter earnings, citing increased demand for its most advanced chips.

TSMC’s positive outlook spurred increased optimism that a boom in AI will help spur renewed investment into the tech sector, which was reeling from a nearly two-year slump amid high interest rates and stagnating demand for electronics.

Gains in TSMC spilled over into other Asian markets. South Korea’s KOSPI added 1.1% on strength in chipmakers Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930) and SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660).

Australia’s ASX 200 added 0.8% on strength in the tech sector, while gains in heavyweight tech stocks helped Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index add 0.5%.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a positive open, with local tech stocks set to track gains in their global peers.

Asian stocks still set for weekly losses on China jitters
China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes lagged their peers for the day, losing about 0.5% each after rebounding from multi-year lows in the prior session. The two indexes were headed for a third straight week in red, following disappointing economic growth figures for the fourth quarter.

Concerns over China and growing doubts over early U.S. rate cuts put most Asian bourses on course for a negative week. The Hang Seng was the worst performer in the region, down about 4.5% this week tracking steep declines in mainland stocks.

South Korea’s KOSPI was down 2.4% this week, while the ASX 200 was nursing a 1.3% weekly decline.

India’s Nifty 50 was down nearly 2% after starting the week at record highs, with investors engaging in heavy profit-taking.

Most Asian bourses were still reeling from a weak start to 2024, amid growing doubts that the Fed will cut rates by as soon as March.

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