Asian shares mostly directionless as markets digest weaker-than-expected China PMI

01-Aug-2017 Intellasia | CNBC | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Major Asian indexes were mostly directionless in Monday trade, after geopolitical tensions in the Korean Peninsula ramped up in recent days and markets digested the release of China PMI data.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged down 0.05 percent and South Korea’s Kospi was off by 0.25 percent in early trade.

In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was higher by 0.26 percent, driven by strong showings in its materials sub-index, which was up 1.57 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.35 percent while mainland markets digested the release of slightly lower-than-expected China PMI data. The Shanghai Composite was flat and the Shenzhen Composite slipped 0.139 percent.

In China, official manufacturing PMI for July stood at 51.4, compared to a Reuters forecast of 51.6. The July figure was also below June’s reading of 51.7. Meanwhile, the official services PMI came in at 54.5 for July, compared to the 54.9 seen in June.

While manufacturing PMI data tends to be more closely watched, China’s pivot toward domestic consumption and away from investment-led growth means the services sector accounts for a bigger slice of the mainland economy.

The Australian dollar, which is sensitive to Chinese economic data, declined before the release to trade as low as $0.7953 on the news compared to levels around the $0.798 handle seen earlier. The Aussie dollar recovered to trade at $0.7981 at 9:49 a.m. HK/SIN.

The dollar recouped some losses after edging down Friday on the back of lackluster second-quarter US GDP figures. The dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of six major currencies, traded as low as 93.256 in the Friday session after hitting as high as 93.946 earlier in the day. The dollar index stood at 93.371 at 9:50 a.m. HK/SIN Monday.

US GDP grew at 2.6 percent in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department’s advanced estimate released Friday. While the reading met expectations, the 1.9 percent growth recorded in the first half of the year suggested it was unlikely that full-year growth would exceed 2.5 percent, Reuters said.

Meanwhile, Japan June industrial production numbers released Monday reflected a rise of 1.6 percent on month, compared to a Reuters estimate of 1.7 percent. The metric recorded a 3.6 percent fall in the month of May, Reuters reported.

The Japanese currency strengthened slightly against the dollar following the news, trading as little as 110.45 to the dollar after the release compared to around 110.5 seen before. The greenback fetched 110.43 yen at 9:51 a.m. HK/SIN.

Markets also kept an eye on geopolitical developments in the Korean peninsula after North Korea test launched a projectile on Friday. In response, the US flew two B-1B bombers over the peninsula and urged countries in the region to do more to tackle the issue.

Oil prices were moderately higher. Brent crude rose 0.19 percent to hold above the $52 level at $52.62 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.2 percent to trade at $49.81 per barrel.

In corporate news, Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings announced Sunday it would sell its fixed-line business to private equity firm I Squared Capital for $1.9 billion, Reuters reported. Hutchison Telecommunications stock soared more than 13 percent in early trade on the news.

On the earnings front, Japan’s Panasonic, Mizuho Financial Group and Japan Airlines, as well as Hong Kong’s HSBC are expected to report earnings.

The economic calendar is fairly eventful (all time in HK/SIN):

10:00 a.m. Singapore June bank lending

11:30 a.m. Thailand June industrial production

Stocks closed mixed on Wall Street Friday as markets saw a fall in stock after the company missed on earnings. The S&P 500 edged down 0.13 percent, or 3.32 points, to close at 2,742.10 and the Nasdaq slid 0.12 percent, or 7.51 points, to end at 6,374.68. The Dow Jones industrial average bucked the trend to rise 0.15 percent, or 33.76 points, finishing the session at 21,830.31.


Category: FinanceAsia

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