Asian markets mostly fell as investors weighed Yellen’s remarks on banks

‘You have to separate that legal control’: Former US general counsel amid concerns about TikTok’s links to China

A former US Commerce Department general counsel said the Chinese tech giant and TikTok’s parent company, BeatDance, should “separate legal oversight” of the short-form video app amid US concerns about TikTok’s connections to China.

Besides the criticisms about content and algorithms and things like that, ByteDance had legal control and [that TikTok’s CEO] The reports are down to ByteDance,” Cameron Kerry, who is also visiting a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” Friday.

In the Congressional hearing ThursdayTestimony from TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew failed to quell US lawmakers’ concerns about TikTok’s connections to China or the adequacy of Project Texas, a plan to store US user data in the US.

“I think you have to separate that legal control. You could do something like this with a trust arrangement to separate the legal control ByteDance has from the benefits of its ownership,” Kerry said.

“I don’t think there is a complete shutdown, ban or divestiture [of TikTok] there is a need “.

– Sheila Chiang

Australian-listed Block shares plunge after Hindenburg report

Australian-listed shares in payment company Block fell nearly 20%, following moves in US-listed shares after Hindenburg Research reported the payment company as its latest short position.

The short seller said Block allowed criminal activity to operate with lenient controls and “severely inflated” the Cash App’s user base, a key measure of performance.

In response to the report, Block said it intends to work with the officials and “explore legal action against Hindenburg Research for a materially inaccurate and misleading report they shared about our cash app business.”

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Shares of the Australian-listed company fell immediately after the open, trading down more than 19.6% in afternoon trade in Asia. Meanwhile, buy now, pay later shares of the company zoom rose more than 5%.

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– Jihi Lee, Rohan Goswami, Mackenzie Sigalos

HKMA says Hong Kong sees little impact from banking turmoil in the US and Europe

Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Eddie Yu said Hong Kong sees “little impact” from the fallout from the global banking sector turmoil.

“I would say that the recent events in the US and Europe have very little impact on Hong Kong,” Yu said in a briefing, adding that Hong Kong banks had “very limited exposure to all the banks that now appear in the papers,” without naming them.

Noting that the situation has “largely stabilized,” Yu assured that he would be watching for possible changes in the future.

“The liquidity has been extended, but whether there will be more changes, we will need to observe,” Yue said. “We, of course, banks in Hong Kong or banks around the world have to prepare if there is more volatility in the market,” he said.

– Vivian Cam, Jihee Lee

Factory activity growth in Japan continued to contract for five consecutive months

Japanese factory activity for the month of March rose slightly, but remained in contraction territory for the fifth consecutive month. Show a quick estimate from au Jibun Bank.

The manufacturing PMI rose to 48.6 from 47.7 in February, its first rise since March 2022.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction in growth.

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But the estimate for Japan’s services sector came in at 54.2 for March, just above a reading of 54.0 for February, and the strongest reading since October 2013.

– Lim Hwi Ji

Australian factory and service activity contracts in March

Service and factory activity in Australia fell into contraction territory in March, According to Juno Bank estimates.

The manufacturing PMI in March came in at 48.7, while the services PMI came in at 48.2, down from 50.5 and 50.7 in February, respectively.

A PMI above 50 shows an expansion, while a reading below 50 indicates a contraction in growth.

The bank noted that weak demand led to lower business activity. This was due to rising interest rates, persistent inflation and weak economic conditions, which affected new business for both Australian goods and services.

– Lim Hwi Ji

Japan’s core inflation rate has fallen from its January peak

Government data on Friday showed that Japan’s core inflation reading eased from January’s high of 4.2% to 3.1% year-on-year in February.

The reading matched expectations of economists polled by Reuters.

Overall, inflation nationwide was at 3.3% for the month compared to a year ago, which is also lower than the January version of 4.3%.

The consumer price index for the economy, excluding fresh food and energy, rose 3.5% year-on-year.

– Jihe Lee

Treasury Secretary Yellen says the emergency measures to support banks could be used again if needed

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Thursday that federal emergency measures used to support Silicon Valley bank and signature bank customers could be used again if needed.

“We used important tools to act quickly to prevent infection. And they are tools we can use again,” Yellen said in her written testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee.

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“The strong measures we have taken ensure that Americans’ deposits are safe,” she added. Certainly, we will be ready to take additional measures if needed.”

Her comments come as regulators aim to reassure customers and investors in the midst of a banking crisis promoted by the Silicon Valley bank’s closure.

Alex Haring and Christina Wilkie

Unemployment claims come in below expectations

Unemployment claims unexpectedly fell last week, indicating a still very tight job market.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the initial filing for unemployment insurance came in at 191,000 for the week ended March 18, down from estimates of 198,000. This was a decrease of 1,000 from the previous period.

Continuing claims, which were a week late, rose by 14,000 to 1.694 million.

Stock market futures fell after the data was released.

– Jeff Cox

CNBC Pro: Why a fund manager has never owned a bank stock — and reveals what he’s looking for instead

Some investors are starting to return to bank stocks after last week’s sell-off, but fund manager Ian Mortimer is clearly on the move.

In fact, he never owned a bank stock in any of his funds. Reveals why on CNBC Pro Talks.

Professional subscribers can read more here.

Dividends or growth shares?  Fund manager Ian Mortimer has strategies for both

CNBC Pro: Wall Street downgrades European banks, naming stocks to buy ‘if markets falter’

Wall Street downgrades European banks after pressures in the sector led to an emergency merger of two large Swiss banks.

Two investments promoted another sector and named dozens of stocks to own “in case the markets falter”.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

– Ganesh Rao

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