Asia report: Most markets fall amid wave of data from China
Most stock markets were in the red in Asia on Tuesday, as investors digested a veritable tsunami of data out of China.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 1.23% at 26,138.68, as the yen strengthened 0.17% on the dollar to last trade at JPY 128.36.
Robotics specialist Fanuc was up 2.14%, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing added 2.78%, and tech investing giant SoftBank Group was 1.86% firmer.
The broader Topix index was 0.88% firmer by the end of trading in Tokyo, finishing the session at 1,902.89.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.1% at 3,224.24, and the technology-centric Shenzhen Component was 0.13% firmer at 11,800.55.
Fresh data out of Beijing earlier in the day showed China’s economy growing more than anticipated in the fourth quarter, as retail sales and industrial output also beat expectations.
The country’s gross domestic product expanded 2.9% year-on-year in the period, above the 1.8% rise economists had pencilled in.
Growth on the quarter was flat, although that was still ahead of consensus expectations for a 0.8% contraction.
Retail sales, meanwhile, fell 1.8% year-on-year in December, which was much better than the 8.6% tumble economists polled by Reuters had been expecting.
Elsewhere, industrial output was up 1.3% on the year, beating the 0.2% push higher that markets were forecasting.
“China’s reopening period is likely to see a moderate economic recovery starting as early as March and from the second quarter onwards,” said Duncan Wrigley at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“We expect the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) to cut rates in March or April to boost private sector demand.
“The new premier is likely to announce consumption-support measures and incentives for private companies to invest at the National People’s Congress in March.”
Wrigley noted that local governments had issued “fairly bullish” economic plans for 2023 and, unlike last year, would focus on growth rather than Covid containment.
“We see this as stepped up targeted support rather than a massive, broad stimulus in the vein of that following the Global Financial Crisis, which drove up debt and resulted in a pre-Covid decade of policy headaches related to financial risk.
“The chief headwinds for GDP this year are falling exports on soft global demand and the weak property sector which is set for a drawn-out recovery, even with additional support.”
South Korea’s Kospi was off 0.85% at 2,379.39, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 0.78% lower at 21,577.64.
The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 0.16% and SK Hynix up 0.23%.
Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude futures last up 1.57% on ICE at $85.79 per barrel, and the NYMEX quote for West Texas Intermediate rising 0.76% to $80.47.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.03% lower at 7,386.30, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was ahead 0.59% at 11,881.00.
Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.08% at AUD 1.4366, and the Kiwi advancing 0.46% to NZD 1.5599.
Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.