Asian shares mostly rise as market players weigh mix of data
TOKYO – Asian shares were mostly higher Monday as the week started with a mix of economic data for the region and the U.S.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.5% in early trading to 21,294.14.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up nearly 0.1% to 6,652.20. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6% to 2,022.03.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed earlier gains to be little changed at 26,685.86, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.4% to 3,012.89.
The Japanese government released revised economic growth data for the April-June quarter. The Cabinet Office said gross domestic product, or GDP — the total value of a nation’s goods and services — had grown at an annual rate of 1.3%.
That was slightly lower than the earlier estimate for 1.8% growth. The data showed that private demand had grown at a slower rate but government investment had risen higher than the earlier estimate.
Chinese customs data showed Sunday that China’s trade with the United States was falling as the two sides prepare for negotiations with no signs of progress toward ending a tariff war that threatens global economic growth.
Imports of American goods tumbled 22% in August from a year earlier to $10.3 billion, while exports to the United States, China’s biggest market, sank 16% to $44.4 billion, according to the data.
Both sides have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s imports in the fight over complaints about Beijing’s trade surplus and technology development plans. The United States, Europe, Japan and other trading partners say those violate Chinese market-opening commitments.
“A mixed set of leads sets Asia up for a muted start to a week focused on monetary policy. China’s trade data had been one to disappoint over the weekend after further monetary stimulus announcements,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.
U.S. stock indexes finished last week little changed after a day of mostly quiet trading capped the S&P 500’s second straight weekly gain.
Traders had a muted reaction to new data showing that U.S. employers added fewer than expected jobs in August. The report also indicated more people entered the workforce last month, wages rose more than expected and the unemployment rate remained near the lowest level in five decades.
The jobs report was the latest in a mixed batch of economic data that investors scrutinized this week in search of clues about how the economy is weathering the costly trade war between the U.S. and China. Their concern: tariffs that each side has imposed on billions of goods may be dampening global economic growth and threatening to nudge the United States into a recession.
Mixed economic data aside, investors have been encouraged this week by news that envoys from Washington and Beijing plan to begin another round of trade talks next month.
The S&P 500 inched up 2.71 points, or 0.1%, to 2,978.71. The benchmark index gained 1.8% for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69.31 points, or 0.3%, to 26,797.46. The Nasdaq wobbled for much of the day, ending with a loss of 13.75 points, or 0.2%, to 8,103.07. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 5.58 points, or 0.4%, to 1,505.17.
Markets have been turbulent in recent weeks as worries about the trade war have waxed and waned. But Wall Street got a modest bounce Friday afternoon after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank is not expecting a U.S. or global recession. In remarks at a conference in Switzerland, Powell noted that the Fed is monitoring a number of uncertainties, including trade conflicts, adding the Fed will “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”
Economists said Friday’s jobs report did little to change their forecasts for the Fed to cut interest rates at its meeting in two weeks. Treasury yields dipped following the report, and traders remain nearly certain that the Fed will cut short-term rates by a quarter of a percentage point.
It would be the second such cut since August, following nine increases since December 2015, as the central bank tries to cushion the blow on the economy from the U.S.-China trade war. U.S. manufacturing has already slid due to the tensions, and the worry is that businesses could pull back on their spending next.
Benchmark crude oil added 61 cents to $57.13 a barrel. It rose 22 cents to settle at $56.52 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, added 49 cents to $62.03 a barrel.
The dollar fell to 106.89 Japanese yen from 106.97 yen on Friday. The euro was little changed at $1.1026, inching up from $1.1023. /gsg
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.