While Asian stock markets were having mixed fortunes, China's Shanghai Composite Index was trading lower by 0.91% at 2,836.46 on Thursday (10 March) at 5.06am GMT. This followed Chinese inflation data released for the month of February. The data indicated that consumer prices had spiked to a six-month high in February.
While this was 2.3% more than February 2015, it was faster than January's 1.8% rise. Higher inflation is bad for a country because it would make it harder for the central bank to stimulate the economy.
A few regions in the continent, however, saw an uptick in their stock market indices amid an unexpected rate cut by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. The country's central bank cut its benchmark interest rates by 25 basis points to 2.25% and it also said further such cuts might be announced in the future.
Another reason for an uptick in certain indices is due to expectations by investors that the European Central Bank would follow New Zealand by easing its monetary policy later in the day. Hiroaki Mino, director of investment information department at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo, said: "The euro's weakness is indicating something positive out of the ECB meeting, so the market may rise further in the afternoon."
While agreeing that the ECB could cut interest rates further, Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, argued that this need not necessarily mean a good thing for the markets. "There are also market discussions around the idea that the ECB may be pushing on a piece of string, and that any stimulatory impacts of negative rates is overwhelmed by the signalling effect that Europe is in crisis," he explained.
Indices in the rest of Asia traded as follows on 10 March at 5.24am GMT:
|Hong Kong||Hang Seng Index||20,108.19||Up||0.56%|
Meanwhile, overnight on Wednesday (9 March), the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,000.36, up 0.21%, while the FTSE 100 closed higher by 0.34% at 6,146.32.
Among commodities, WTI crude oil was trading 0.13% lower at $38.24 (£26.94, €34.84) a barrel, while Brent was down 0.37% at $40.92 a barrel at 5.36am GMT on 10 March. In January 2016, Standard Chartered had warned that the price of oil could slide to $10 a barrel.