Asian markets hit by weak China data, strong yen
HONG KONG—Asian shares mostly fell on Tuesday as fresh data showed Chinese manufacturing weakening further this month, while Japan’s Nikkei succumbed to profit-taking and a pick-up in the yen.
The latest figures from China add to growing concerns about the world’s No. 2 economy, a crucial driver of global growth, following last week’s worse-than-forecast gross domestic product results.
Shanghai tumbled 2.57 percent, or 57.63 points, to 2,184.54 and Hong Kong was down 1.08 percent, or 237.76 points, at 21,806.61.
Tokyo closed 0.29 percent lower, giving up 38.72 points to 13,529.65 and Seoul fell 0.40 percent, or 7.68 points, to 1,918.63.
However, Sydney rose 1 percent, or 49.6 points, to 5,016.2.
Banking giant HSBC said that according to preliminary data, manufacturing activity in China slowed in April due to sluggish foreign demand.
Its initial purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the month came in at 50.5, from a final 51.6 in March. A reading above 50 indicates growth and anything below points to contraction. The final result will be announced on May 2.
“New export orders contracted after a temporary rebound in March, suggesting external demand… remains weak,” Qu Hongbin, a Hong Kong-based economist with HSBC, said in a release.
Deng Wenyuan, an analyst at Soochow Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires: “While manufacturing is still expanding, details in the report showed that orders were down a lot, making investors less optimistic about exports.”
The result comes just over a week after official data showed the economy grew 7.7 percent in the January-March quarter, slower than the 7.9 percent in the previous three months and below the 8.0 forecast.
That news sent shivers through markets on fears for the global economy.
While regional shares were being sold after a recent upturn, Japanese investors also took their cue from a rise in the yen.
The dollar was unable to break the 100 yen barrier on Monday after moving within a whisker of the key level, which it has not seen since April 2009.
The greenback was down at 98.70 yen in Europe, from 99.35 yen in New York late Monday and after climbing as high as 99.88 yen earlier Monday in Tokyo.
But analysts said the underlying trend in dollar-yen trade was unchanged, with the Japanese currency set to resume its long slide as the Bank of Japan tries to kick-start the stagnant economy by effectively printing new money.
“A temporary resurgence in the yen is holding the market back thus far, but the overall trajectory is still lower,” said Tatsunori Kawai, chief strategist at Kabu.com Securities.
“So it’s likely to be just a matter of time before the dollar reaches the 100 yen mark.”
In other forex trade the euro eased to 128.12 yen from 129.77 yen, while the single European currency fetched $1.2978 from $1.3062.
Eyes will be on the BoJ’s next rate decision on Friday, with investors looking to see if it unveils any further stimulus measures to kick-start the economy.
On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.14 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.47 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.86 percent.
Oil prices fell, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, down $1.06 to $88.88.13 a barrel on its first day of trade, while Brent North Sea crude for June shed $1.29 to $99.10.
An ounce of gold fetched $1,414.10 at 1045 GMT, compared with $1,432.35 late Monday.
In other markets:
– Singapore fell 0.74 percent, or 24.57 points, to close at 3,284.35.
DBS Bank shed 0.90 percent to Sg$15.51 and oil rig maker Keppel Corp. dropped 0.18 percent to Sg$11.30.
– Taipei dropped 0.35 percent, or 27.61 points, to 7,942.77.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. slipped 2.30 percent to Tw$106.0 while Hon Hai Precision was 0.91 percent lower at Tw$76.2.
– Manila slid 1.94 percent, or 138.12 points, to 6,982.36.
Alliance Global retreated 4.62 percent to 24.80 pesos, while BDO Unibank slipped 0.54 percent to 92.15 pesos and SM Prime Holdings dropped 4.50 percent to 19.10 pesos.
– Wellington added 0.73 percent, or 32.84 points, to 4,516.50.
Telecom rose 3.11 percent to NZ$2.65 and Fletcher Building put on 2.36 percent to close at NZ$8.66.
– Bangkok lost 0.63 percent, or 9.75 points, to 1,549.35.
Bangchak Petroleum fell 4.26 percent to 33.75 baht, but Big C Supercenter jumped 7.41 percent to 232 baht.
– Kuala Lumpur fell 0.37 percent, or 6.29 points, to 1,700.39.
Hong Leong Financial Group dropped 2.0 percent to 15.00 ringgit while Kuala Lumpur Kepong shed 1.6 percent to 21.30 ringgit. PPB Group added 0.2 percent to finish at 12.62 ringgit.
– Jakarta eased 0.43 percent, or 21.59 points, to 4,975.33.
Lender Bank Negara Indonesia fell 0.93 percent to 5,300 rupiah, while food manufacturer Indofood Sukses Makmur rose 2.04 percent to 7,500 rupiah.
– Mumbai ended flat, adding 9.53 points at 19,179.36 points.
Private carrier Jet Airways rose 4.43 percent to 573.85 rupees while energy giant Reliance Industries gained 1.74 percent to 803.5 rupees.—Danny McCord
Originally posted: 11:53 am | Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013