Asia stocks mixed on patchy US economic data
Asian stocks ended mixed Thursday, with most markets taking a hit after patchy U.S. economic data fed economic uncertainty while Tokyo got a boost from a weaker yen.
U.S. data showing the service sector expanded to a record high in July strengthened the case for an earlier interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve, analysts said, providing a boost for the dollar.
The gains in the greenback pushed down the yen by comparison — a weaker Japanese currency makes exporters more competitive — and helped push up Tokyo stocks 0.24 percent, or 50.38 points, to close at 20,664.64.
U. S. stocks pushed higher Wednesday day after the Institute for Supply Management said the service industry expanded 4.3 percent in July, but payroll firm ADP said the private sector added 185,000 jobs last month, below analysts’ estimate of 220,000.
The Bank of Japan began a twoday meeting Thursday, with all eyes on signs of when policymakers may launch further easing measures.
Elsewhere, Seoul lost 0.81 percent, or 16.47 points, dragged down by technology firms and mobile carriers, to 2,013.29.
Shanghai fell 0.89 percent, or 33.03 points, to close at to 3,661.54, while Hong Kong shed 0.57 percent, or 138.88 points, to 24,375.28.
Sydney slid 1.13 percent to close down 63.9 points at 5,610.10 after taking a hit from a jump in unemployment to 6.3 percent in July and news ANZ Bank will sell AU$2.5 billion (US$1.8 billion) of shares.
Analysts floated the possibility of an interest rate cut following the spike in joblessness, which came despite a hiring surge.
“The market is downplaying stronger jobs growth given the rise in unemployment,” Kieran Davies, chief economist at Barclays Plc in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.
Australia’s unemployment rate has edged up over the past year to its highest in almost a decade, while wages growth has been weak and business investment outside the mining sector remains soft.
Adding to concerns over the economy, mining giant Rio Tinto after the bell announced its first-half net profit had fallen 82 percent, hit by a supply glut and waning Chinese demand.
In Shanghai, a second day of losses after a recent market rout compounded fears for the Chinese economy.
The Shanghai Composite Index has tumbled nearly 30 percent from its highest point in June over fears for the health of the world’s secondbiggest economy.
Investors are still jittery despite a raft of measures from Beijing to prop up the share market, including restrictions on short selling, the suspension of initial public offerings (IPOs) and a trading halt for some companies.
U.S. stocks finished mostly higher Wednesday, but a disappointing earnings report from Disney weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Traders are now focusing on Friday’s official U.S. employment figures.
Gold fetched US$1,085.30 an ounce compared with US$1,085.72 late Wednesday. In other markets: — Wellington closed down 0.17 percent, or 9.82 points, at 5,928.69.
Contact Energy went against the trend, rising 3.16 percent to NZ$5.22, while Fletcher Building dropped 0.13 percent to NZ$7.97
— Manila closed down 0.95 percent, or 72.60 points, at 7,589.95.
Top- traded Universal Robina fell 2.50 percent to 195 pesos, SM Prime Holdings lost 0.91 percent to 21.80 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone was down 2.10 percent to 2,800 pesos.
— Bangkok fell 0.40 percent, or 5.78 points, to 1,430.58.
Telecoms company Advanced Info Service dropped 1.64 percent to 240.00 baht, while Siam Commercial Bank slid 1.32 percent to 149.50 baht.
— Kuala Lumpur’s main index fell 1.79 percent, or 30.92 points, to 1,694.64.
Maybank fell 1.31 percent to 9.07 ringgit, Telekom Malaysia was down 0.15 percent to 6.62 while Genting Malaysia dropped 2.83 percent to 4.12 ringgit.
— Singapore rose 0.17 percent, or 5.27 points, to 3,196.66.
Real estate developer Capitaland gained 1.58 percent to SG$3.22 while Singapore Telecom eased 0.25 percent to SG$4.06.
— Jakarta was down 0.91 percent, or 43.97 points, at 4,806.57.
Dharma Samudera Fishing Industries gained 12.20 percent to 184 rupiah, while automotive manufacturer Nipress fell 8.62 percent to 530 rupiah.
— Mumbai was up 0.27 percent, or 75.05 points, at 28,298.13 points.
Engineering major Larsen & Toubro gained 2.74 percent to 1,827.30 rupees, while fast moving consumer goods major ITC fell 1.70 percent to 326.05 rupees.