HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday, with Japanese shares hit by a pick-up in the yen, while Hong Kong and Shanghai saw healthy buying despite worse-than-expected trade data out of China.
Traders were also awaiting a speech by US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and the release of minutes from the bank’s latest meeting for an idea about the future of its stimulus program.
Tokyo’s Nikkei index was down 0.39 percent, or 56.30 points, at 14,416.60 and Seoul ended 0.34 percent lower, giving up 6.19 points to 1,824.16.
However, Shanghai jumped 2.17 percent, or 42.68 points to 2,008.13, while Hong Kong added 1.07 percent, or 221.55 points, to 20.904.56. Sydney ended 0.40 percent, or 19.7 points, higher at 4,901.4.
Beijing released figures Wednesday showing exports fell 3.1 percent in June from the previous year, while imports slipped 0.7 percent.
The data adds to recent figures showing the Asian economic giant is losing strength. A manufacturing report last week showed activity at the country’s factories was shrinking.
However, the news was met with rallies in Shanghai and Hong Kong, with analysts pointing out that tighter rules preventing fraudulent trade reporting probably contributed to the drop.
Regulators introduced the new rules in May after finding widespread over-invoicing by exporters looking for tax rebates and trying to avoid currency controls.
“The broad trend in China’s trade data is in line with GDP growth slowing to levels that have already been priced in by financial markets,” AMP Capital’s Nader Naeimi told Dow Jones Newswires.
“Today’s data don’t add to the negative case and I think the market will react a lot more to good news than bad news from here.”
Investors will pore over the minutes of the Fed’s most recent meeting for an idea of when it will bring an end to its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying scheme aimed at kickstarting US growth.
Global markets are showing signs of stabilizing after weeks of fluctuations caused by expectations of an end to the scheme.
The likelihood it will start winding down this year has grown in recent weeks with a slew of data showing the US economy strengthening. The Fed has said it will start to reel in the program once a recovery looks solid enough.
However, Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, said: “People have started to realize in the last week that even though the Fed may be tapering, the only way it is going to happen is if there is economic improvement.”
Similarly, a speech by Bernanke later in the day will be scrutinized for possible clues on the bank’s intentions.
On forex markets, the dollar rowed back after enjoying some recent buying in anticipation of the end of stimulus, which would mean fewer dollars in financial markets.
The greenback fell to 100.10 yen, compared with 101.11 yen late Tuesday in New York.
The euro fetched $1.2821 and 128.32 yen, compared with $1.2787 and 129.29 yen.
On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.50 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.72 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.56 percent to close at its highest level since October 2000.
Oil prices rose, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, up $1.14 to $104.67 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery adding 51 cents to $108.32.
Gold was at $1,253.50 per ounce at 1050 GMT, compared with $1,249.90 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
— Taipei rose 0.51 percent, or 40.51 points, to 8,011.69.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company rose 1.88 percent to Tw$75.9, while smartphone maker HTC was 1.33 percent higher at Tw$191.0.
— Manila dropped 0.30 percent, or 18.84 points, to 6,308.18.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone fell 0.92 percent to 2,802 pesos while Metro Pacific Investment slipped 3.43 percent to 4.78 pesos.
— Wellington rose 0.73 percent, or 33.08 points, to 4,556.77.
Fletcher Building was up 1.76 percent at NZ$8.66 and Telecom added 0.87 percent to NZ$2.32 but Chorus was down 1.12 percent at NZ$2.65.
— Bangkok closed down 0.73 percent, or 10.28 points, to 1,388.41.
Coal producer Banpu rose 2.21 percent to 231, while Bangkok Bank gained 1.60 percent to 191 baht.
— Kuala Lumpur gained 2.22 points, or 0.13 percent, to close at 1,768.71.
Public Bank ended 0.1 percent higher at 16.96 ringgit while Hong Leong added 1.2 percent to 13.98. UEM Sunrise lost 1.6 percent to close at 3.01 ringgit.
— Singapore closed up 0.30 percent, or 9.41 points, at 3,188.04.
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation was up 2.01 percent at Sg$10.15 and commodities firm Olam International gained 1.25 percent to Sg$1.63.
— Jakarta ended up 1.70 percent, or 74.84 points, at 4,478.64.
Food manufacturer Indofood Sukses Makmur gained 4.58 percent to 6,850 rupiah, while retailer Hero Supermarket dropped 0.71 percent to 3,500 rupiah.
— Mumbai fell 0.75 percent or 145.36 to 19,294.12 points.
Private IndusInd Bank fell 1.50 percent to 495.95 rupees while jewelry firm Gitanjali Gems fell 4.99 percent to 157.10 rupees.—Danny McCord