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Asia Markets Mixed as Investors Further Digest China's Modest Growth Target

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This is CNBC's live blog covering Asia-Pacific markets.

Stocks in Asia-Pacific traded mixed on Monday as investors further digested China's growth target set in its parliamentary sessions and looked ahead to a week of economic data.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.62% to end its session at 7,328.6 ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision Tuesday, with economists surveyed by Reuters expecting to see a 25 basis point hike in its cash rate.

The Nikkei 225 rose 1.11% to close at 28,237.78 and the Topix climbed 0.84% to 2,036.49. In South Korea, the Kospi gained 1.2% to 2,462.62 as the nation's inflation showed further easing in February.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite fell 0.19% to 3,322.03 and the Shenzhen Component inched 0.1% lower to 11,842.88 after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang released the nation's government work report on Sunday. The Hang Seng index struggled for direction and last rose 0.2% in its final hour of trade.

The U.S. non-farm payroll will be a key focus this week with expectations to see cooled hiring, prompting the Federal Reserve to maintain a smaller rate hike pace.

Stocks on Wall Street ended the week higher as Treasury yields eased from their recent highs and investors weighed the cumulative impact from Fed hikes already implemented and digested this week's comments from the central bank.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.17%, the S&P 500 climbed 1.61%, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.97%. The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury note dipped below the 4% threshold.

— CNBC's Tanaya Macheel, Hakyung Kim contributed to this report

Chinese rivals launch foldable smartphones to challenge Samsung

Foldable phones are all the rage right now among global smartphone makers.

Samsung pioneered the smartphone category with its first foldable device that was launched in 2019. Since then, other players, particularly those from China, have launched their own.

Foldable smartphones come with a bendable screen.

Last month, Chinese vendor Oppo launched the Find N2 Flip, and Honor, the spin-off brand from Huawei, came out with its Magic Vs for international markets.

They're looking to challenge the dominance of Samsung, which accounts for 80% of the foldable market.

It comes as speculation rises that Apple could be gearing up to launch a foldable device, though it may be an iPad rather than a smartphone.

Read the full story here.

Arjun Kharpal

South Korea announces to resume trade talks with Japan

South Korea has announced to resume trade talks with Japan, according to a ministry statement.

"In regards to the South Korea-Japan export control situation, to two governments have decided to open talks in efforts to resume the the trade relations to before July 2019 as soon as possible," Kang Gam-chan, South Korea's Trade Ministry official in charge of trade and security policy said in a briefing.

Trade tensions between the two countries were fueled by a dispute over compensation for wartime forced laborers in 2019 under former presidents Shinzo Abe and Moon Jae-in.

— Jihye Lee

ADB says economic growth alone can't improve gender equality in the region

Asia-Pacific countries can't rely on economic growth alone to improve gender equality, said Samantha Hung, chief of gender equality at the Asian Development Bank.

"We need to actually make economies work for women because it's a no-brainer, really, that we can't afford to not tap the full potential of half the population," Hung told CNBC's "Capital Connection."

"That means we need to position women to be ahead of the curve in terms of the types of jobs that are there in the future — such as the non-traditional STEM jobs, the green economy, the digital economy."

Hung added countries need to create "an enabling environment so that the social barriers… are also tackled and women are more able to actually participate fully."

— Sumathi Bala

China's 'modest' growth target could feel disappointing: Citi

China's growth targets announced over the weekend was "not a surprise, but could feel disappointing to some investors," Citi's chief China economist Xiangrong Yu and his team said in a Monday note.

"We think Beijing could be setting this modest target out of concerns on missing the growth target for another year," the economists wrote, noting the economy fell short of its 2022 target of "around 5.5%" last year.

"The government could be concerned on the sentiment damage in case of another miss," the economists wrote, adding that budget details suggest room for larger government bond supply, higher interest rates, narrower trade balance.

— Jihye Lee

Oil prices fall as China's growth targets falls short of commodity boost

Oil prices fell after China's report during its annual National People's Congress fell short of concrete steps towards a commodity boost.

China's commodity demand growth is likely to be contingent on property, which may see only a modest growth, Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Vivek Dhar wrote in a daily note.

"China's local government special bond quota is a closely watched target because it is the main vehicle for infrastructure projects," Dhar said. He noted the quota set at 3.8 trillion yuan for 2023 was lower than the 4.15 trillion yuan quota set in 2022.

Brent crude futures last traded down 0.75% to $85.19 a barrel, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures slipped 0.79% to $79.05 a barrel.

—Lee Ying Shan

UBS raises its China growth forecast for 2023 from 4.9% to 5.4%

UBS raised its growth forecast for China in 2023 from 4.9% to 5.4%, the firm said in a Monday report.

"Economic re-opening is proceeding better than we had expected earlier – the feared "second-wave" of Covid did not materialize and there was little sign of supply disruptions," it said, adding that the global economy has been more resilient than earlier predicted.

UBS also raised its 2024 growth forecast for the country to 5.2% from a previous estimate of 4.8%, while lowering its inflation forecast for 2023 from 3% to 2.5%.

— Jihye Lee

TVB rises after announcing deal with Alibaba's Taobao

Hong Kong broadcaster TVB's stocks rose for a fourth straight session after announcing to partner with Alibaba's popular marketplace Taobao to launch a joint e-commerce broadcast last week.

Its Hong Kong-listed shares traded 21% higher on Monday after closing Friday's session 51.6% higher, marking a 90.79% surge year-to-date.

TVB's first livestreaming e-commerce broadcast will take place on Tuesday, the release said.

— Jihye Lee

Reserve Bank of Australia expected to hike 25 basis points Tuesday

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to hike its overnight cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.6%, according to economists surveyed by Reuters.

That would mark the highest rate since June 2012, when Australia's cash rate stood at 3.75%.

Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index, noted the tone of the central bank's statement could determine how much further the RBA would hike rates to tame inflation.

Pointing to the RBA's statement of needing further increases in rates "over the months ahead," Simpson said, "Any adjustments to the wording of this sentence could be the difference between one or two more hikes from here."

"A further increase over the months ahead would suggests one more hike is to follow, with a terminal rate at 3.85%," he said.

— Jihye Lee

South Korea's economy sees inflation ease in February

South Korea's consumer price index rose 4.8% on an annualized basis in February, at a slower pace from January's 5.2%, according to Statistics Korea.

Compared to a month ago, prices increased 0.3% alongside falling food prices while utilities rising 28.4%.

This marks the economy's inflation levels below 5% for the first time in ten months, Refinitiv data showed.

The Korean won weakened 0.23% to 1,298.72 against the U.S. dollar after the inflation report.

— Jihye Lee

Japan's labor unions demand biggest wage hike since 1990

A survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation showed the nation's labor unions by average demanded a wage hike of 4.49% for 2023, according to a Friday release.

This marks an average higher than 4% for the first time since 1998, the organization said in its release, and a sharp increase from 2.97% in 2022.

— Jihye Lee

CNBC Pro: Wall Street pros name the biggest risk to stock markets — and reveal how to trade it

Stock markets are broadly in the green this year, but there is an uneasiness about the rally, with several risk factors still afflicting the market.

How should investors trade the market? Wall Street pros weigh in with their top ideas.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

CNBC Pro: Goldman Sachs has added 3 stocks to its conviction buy list, giving one 100% upside

Goldman Sachs has this year added a number of stocks to its conviction list. These are buy-rated stocks it expects to outperform, and it gave them further share price upside.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

The major averages close higher

Stocks closed higher on Friday, pushing the major averages to a winning week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 387.40 points, or 1.17%, to 33,390.97. The S&P 500 climbed 1.61% to 4,045.64, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.97% to close at 11,689.01.

For the week, the Dow ended up 1.75%. The S&P added 1.9% and the Nasdaq jumped 2.58%.

— Tanaya Macheel

Weaker jobs market could lead to risk-on trade, David Rosenberg says

David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist of Rosenberg Research, believes the stock market would see a sustained rally when the labor market starts to contract in three to four months.

"Right now you've got a situation where the stock markets and the credit markets seem to think that they have more time that they can buy before the boom really gets lowered on the economy," Rosenberg said on CNBC's "Fast Money" Thursday.

"There's no doubt the economy is not strong, but it has to weaken precipitously. Unemployment has to start contracting... I think that's where you're going to find the risk on trade," he added.

The employment picture started off 2023 on a stunningly strong note, with nonfarm payrolls posting their biggest gain since July 2022. The Federal Reserve could reverse its tightening policy when the jobs market shows weakness.

— Yun Li

Brent oil prices fall on reports UAE is considering an OPEC departure

Relations between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates growing more tense, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Citing Emirati officials, the report said the UAE is debating whether it should depart OPEC.

The news of the potential rupture in the oil cartel put a chill on Brent crude prices. At one point in Friday trading, prices had fallen nearly 3%, before recovering. Recently, the global benchmark was down 0.85% at $84.03.

The two oil producing nations have been jockeying for influence and disagree over the direction of the Yemen war, according to the report.

—Christina Cheddar Berk

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