Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
HONG KONG – Asian markets were mixed in Easter holiday-hit trade Monday, with Japan’s Nikkei rallying on the back of a weaker yen as data showed the country’s trade deficit quadrupled in March.
Tokyo rose 0.83 percent and Singapore added 0.24 percent, while Shanghai was 0.53 percent lower and Seoul eased 0.25 percent.
Hong Kong, Sydney and Wellington were closed for the Easter holidays.
With markets in most of Europe and the United States closed on Friday and Monday, business was thin as investors look ahead to the release this week of preliminary manufacturing data from around the world as well as US retail and house price figures.
In early trade, the dollar was at 102.62 yen compared with 102.41 yen on Friday, while the euro bought $1.3810 and 141.68 yen, against $1.3817 and 141.48 yen.
In Tokyo, the government said Japan’s trade deficit hit $14 billion in March, compared with a shortfall of 356.9 billion yen a year ago.
The huge deficit came as a weaker yen increased the cost of imports, especially of fossil fuels, and was compounded by the fact consumers rushed to buy ahead of the April 1 sales tax hike.
On oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for May delivery, dipped 15 cents to $104.15 in early Asian trade while Brent North Sea crude for June also eased 24 cents to $109.29 a barrel.
Gold fetched $1,286.43 an ounce at 0200 GMT, compared with $1,289.90 on Friday.
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