Asian shares push higher led by China
Asian shares mainly rose on Monday, led by a surge in China as hopes for more market intervention and state-backed mergers overshadowed fresh weak economic data from the world's number two economy.
Meanwhile the dollar gained against the yen after upbeat jobs data on Friday added to expectations the US central bank will raise interest rates as early as September. Tokyo equities scraped back earlier losses to close up 0.41 percent and Sydney added 0.63 percent. Shanghai led the gains, with shares surging up to 4.5 percent by mid-afternoon as speculation the government will accelerate mergers between state-owned enterprises and release new funds to support the market outweighed poor trade data.
"The 8.3 percent decline in China's exports are a key factor, but Chinese equities are rallying today on the idea of further easing measures," said Chris Weston at IG Markets. Bucking the broad regional trend, Hong Kong edged down 0.18 percent in afternoon deals, while Seoul closed down 0.35 percent.
Chinese shares have been on a rollercoaster ride since June, prompting Beijing to unleash an unprecedented wave of measures to reassure investors after the market collapsed by some 30 percent in under a month.
Stocks surged for a second day after China's securities regulator late on Friday, in a fresh move, said it had called on securities brokers and fund managers to help stabilise the market.
Shares in Chinese shipbuilders also got a boost on Monday from reports Beijing plans to merge China Shipping Group and Cosco Group amid a broader overhaul of inefficient state-run companies, Bloomberg News reported. China Shipbuilding Industry jumped 9.8 percent in Shanghai, while China CSSC Holdings was up by the maximum 10 percent. Industrials China CSSC Holdings Ltd. and China First Heavy Industries both also got a boost, rising 10 percent.
"State owned enterprise mergers are an investment theme that's quite certain and there are signs that the move will speed up," Li Jingyuan, a general manager at Shanghai Zhaoyi Asset Management, told Bloomberg News. "Foreign investors pay more attention to economic data and fundamentals, while local investors are more sensitive to policies."
The gains came after trade data showing China's exports plunged 8.3 percent from a year earlier, while imports dropped 8.1 percent, added to concerns over the health of Asia's largest economy. Beijing on Sunday said inflation rose 1.6 percent in July, well below the government's annual target of three percent, while producer prices declined to their lowest level since late 2009. The news will likely hit commodities and particularly base metals, analysts said, which plumbed to multiyear lows last week over signs demand is waning in massive importer China. Higher rates tend to push up the US currency, which in turn makes dollar-priced commodities less attractive to international investors and so dents prices. In individual stocks, Japan Display jumped 13.6 percent to 426 yen after the smartphone screenmaker reported upbeat earnings after markets closed Friday.
Taipei rose 0.29 percent, or 24.55 points, to 8,466.84. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co shed 3.01 percent to Tw$129.0 while Fubon Financial Holding gained 2.11 percent to Tw$58.2. In Wellington, the NZX50 was flat, edging down 3.64 points to 5,865.02. Contact Energy rose 0.78 percent to NZ$5.19 while Auckland International Airport was down 3.05 percent at NZ$5.245.