Asia report: Most markets lower amid mixed China data
Most markets in Asia finished weaker on Thursday, as investors digested fresh economic data out of China, and employment figures from Australia.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.51% at 23,507.23, as the yen strengthened 0.12% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.30.
Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing was up 1.11%, while among the benchmark’s other major components, robotics specialist Fanuc was down 1.79% and technology giant SoftBank Group was off 2.08%.
The broader Topix index was 0.74% weaker by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,631.79.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was off 0.26% at 3,332.18, and the smaller, technology-centric Shenzhen Composite lost 0.7% to 2,274.39.
In fresh economic data out of China, the country’s consumer price index rose 1.7% year-on-year in December, just short of the 1.8% pencilled in by economists in a Reuters poll.
Producer prices, meanwhile, were down 2.1% year-on-year, compared to the 1.8% predicted by economists.
“For the most part, September’s report should prove to be a temporary blow, merely delaying the economy’s complete exit from PPI deflation to the second quarter of 2021, when extremely favourable base effects in commodity prices kick in,” said Pantheon Macroeconomics senior Asia economist Miguel Chanco.
“However, the slack in the economy and the recent build-up in inventories, which leads trends in manufacturing prices by around three quarters, suggests that the latter’s declines are likely to remain fairly sticky into the middle of next year.
“This should compel the People’s Bank of China to hold off on normalising monetary policy until the second half of 2021.”
South Korea’s Kospi was off 0.81% at 2,361.21, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong lost 2.06% to 24,158.54.
The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 1.48%, while chipmaker SK Hynix rose 0.69%.
Big Hit Entertainment opened at double its issue price on the South Korean bourse, before the music label which features K-pop megastars BTS among its assets closed more than 90% higher.
Other entertainment plays in the country were weaker, however, with JYP Entertainment down 5.29%, SM Entertainment off 6.73%, and YG Entertainment 6.75% weaker.
Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific was up 6.1%, amid reports that the special administrative region had struck a deal with Singapore authorities to create a bilateral ‘travel bubble’, to allow unhindered travel between the two cities.
Oil prices were lower as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last down 1.27% at $42.77 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate off 1.32% to $40.50.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 went against the regional trend, closing up 0.5% at 6,210.30, as investors digested an increase in the country’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate to 6.9%.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was 0.45% weaker at 12,486.73, ending 11 days of gains.
Both of the down under dollars were weaker on the greenback, with the Aussie last off 1.3% at AUD 1.4143, and the Kiwi advancing 0.88% to NZD 1.5153.