Asian stocks gain before China data, Europe rate meeting

SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets rose Tuesday ahead of China’s release of quarterly growth data and a policy meeting of the European Central Bank later in the week.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.1 per cent to 16,920.86 while South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3 per cent to 2,033.14. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.9 per cent to 23,239.97 and China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.5 per cent to 3,056.93. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 per cent to 5,412.50. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mostly higher. But Thailand’s main index dropped 0.6 per cent.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “This week’s China monthly data dump will certainly attract attention given last week’s deplorable trade data,” said Stephen Innes, a senior trader at OANDA. “After a shaky start to the year, China economy has stabilized thanks to easy money policy and massive infrastructure builds.”

FOCUS ON EUROPE: Investors were waiting a news conference by the European Central Bank’s slated for Thursday. The probability of another rate cut by the bank is low but analysts said surprises could send jitters through markets.

WALL STREET: Wall Street closed moderately lower on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 51.98 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 18,086.40. The S&P 500 index slid 6.48 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,126.50. The Nasdaq composite index fell 14.34 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5,199.82.

OIL: U.S. benchmark crude oil added 29 cents to $50.23 per barrel in New York. The contract fell 41 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to close at $49.94 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 33 cents at $51.85 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 103.82 yen from 103.87 on Friday, while the euro strengthened to $1.1023 from $1.1002.