A strong lead from Wall Street and a rebound in oil prices gave Asian stock markets a lift yesterday, even as fresh economic data from China missed expectations.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 up 1.1% at 16,919.92 points; Shanghai — Composite up 1.6% at 3,050.67 points and Hong Kong — Hang Seng up 0.8% at 22,766.91 points at the close yesterday.
Investors shrugged off figures from the world’s second largest economy showing retail sales growth slowed, instead tracking US markets where all three major indices vaulted to new records.
Oil prices also extended overnight gains in Asian trade after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister hinted that crude producers may take action to rebalance the market. “Asia Pacific markets are set to finish the week on a high following strong leads from European and US investors,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said in an e-mail commentary.
“Industrial commodities rose, led by oil, and overnight trading displayed ‘risk on’ characteristics despite the lack of an obvious trigger.”
The US highs — last seen among the leading indices in 1999 — came amid strong gains in petroleum-linked shares and retailers, while European stocks also pushed higher thanks to accommodative central bank policies lending continued support to equities.
Among the performers was China’s New York-listed e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, which reported sales of 32.15bn yuan ($4.83bn), 59% higher than a year ago and above analyst expectations.
Tokyo closed at its highest level in more than two months, rising 1.1% after having been closed on Thursday for a national holiday.
Sydney gained 0.4%, while Kuala Lumpur was up despite figures showing Malaysia’s economic growth slowed in the second quarter.
Shanghai and Hong Kong also surged — rising 1.6% and 0.8% respectively even as China data disappointed. Government figures released Friday showed that retail sales in the Asian powerhouse rose 10.2% year-on-year in July, a sharp slowdown from the 10.6% increase in June and below the median forecast of a 10.5% rise in a Bloomberg News poll of economists.
Also missing expectations was factory output, which increased 6.0% in July over the year before, and fixed asset investment, a gauge of infrastructure spending, which rose 8.1% in the first seven months of the year.
Industrial output had been expected to show 6.2% growth and fixed asset investment 8.9% growth. “Though the economic data are weak, they are still within an acceptable range to investors,” Wang Zheng, the Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management Co told Bloomberg News.
The National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement China’s economy was “basically steady” in July but that “serious disasters” from flooding and high temperatures in some parts of the country caused some indicators to slow. Beijing is looking to retool the economy from a reliance on investment spending and exports to one driven more by consumer demand, but the transition is proving bumpy and gross domestic product growth expanded last year at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century.
Hong Kong-listed CNOOC rose 3.2% while Santos added almost 4% in Sydney and Formosa Chemical Corp also advanced 2.9% in Taipei.
Oil, which had entered a “bear” market last week, dropped on Wednesday after US data showed crude stocks remained high and a report from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries revealed Saudi Arabian oil production had risen last month to nearly 11mn barrels per day. But in remarks reported on Thursday, Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih hinted producers could agree to cut output next month at an informal Opec meeting.
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