Asia report: Most markets rise as China trade data surprises
Most markets in Asia were in positive territory on Tuesday, as fresh export data from China for August surprised to the upside.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.86% at 29,916.14, as the yen weakened 0.06% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 109.93.
Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing was down 0.87%, while among the benchmark’s other major components, robotics specialist Fanuc rose 0.35% and technology giant SoftBank Group rocketed 9.86%.
SoftBank’s gains came as it announced that it would become the second-largest listed shareholder of Deutsche Telekom, by agreeing a share swap for its holding in T-Mobile US.
The broader Topix index was ahead 1.09% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 2,063.38.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was 1.51% higher at 3,676.59, and the smaller, technology-centric Shenzhen Composite advanced 1.11% to 2,490.64.
Exports from China leapt 25.6% year-on-year in August, according to data from the General Administration of Customs, which was well above the 17.1% predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll.
Imports were also ahead of forecasts, with growth picking up to 33.1% year-on-year in August from 28.1% in July, above the consensus for a slowdown to 26.9%.
“The evidence for a surge in trade was there in Korean figures, but we had shaded those bets due to the deterioration of the purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs), which can contain coincident information,” said Pantheon Macroeconomics chief Asia economist Freya Beamish.
“We assume firms were eager to shift goods ahead of any further restrictions as Delta cases were rising and spreading geographically.
“The partial closure of Ningbo-Zhoushan port seems to have had the effect of spurring on trade elsewhere in the country in an effort to get ahead of any further restrictions.”
Beamish noted that when the virus retreated later in the month, the surge appeared to have died down, adding that Pantheon assumed the drop-off evidenced in the Korean data would continue in September.
“In short, Delta is both generating a temporary boost to demand, and creating a lot of noise.
“We continue to be worried about the reversion to pre-Covid trends if and when the vaccines win out against Delta.”
South Korea’s Kospi was the region’s odd one out, slipping 0.5% to 3,187.42, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong rose 0.73% to 26,353.63.
Retail plays were among the winners in the special administrative region, after reports that the city would restart quarantine-free access to visitors from mainland China from 15 September.
Chow Sang Sang was up 5.35%, Giordano International added 6.49%, and Sa Sa International was 10.53% firmer.
The blue-chip technology stocks were on the back foot in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 1.55% and SK Hynix losing 1.42%.
Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last up 0.42% at $72.52 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 0.09% to $68.99.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 eked out gains of 0.02% to 7,530.30, as the country’s central bank stood pat on interest rates in its latest decision.
The Reserve Bank of Australia kept the cash rate target at the current record low 0.1%, with governor Philip Lowe confirming bond-buying would continue at around AUD 4bn per week until at least February.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was 0.17% firmer at 13,321.99, with retail stocks in the green in Wellington as most of the country, excluding the largest city Auckland, exited full lockdown restrictions.
Briscoe Group was up 1.5%, Kathmandu added 4.3%, and The Warehouse Group advanced 1.6%, while casino operator SkyCity Entertainment was ahead 1.5%.
The down under dollars were weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.41% at AUD 1.3496, and the Kiwi retreating 0.22% to NZD 1.4044.