Asian shares uneven as China data drags lift from US rally that pushed S&P 500 to new high

TOKYO – Shares in Asia were uneven on Friday as the big markets in Japan and Hong Kong got a lift from the rebound on Wall Street, but weak data dragged Chinese shares lower.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.5 per cent to 19,669.91 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5 per cent to 27,419.75. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 per cent to 5,710.20. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.4 per cent to 2,111.26 after the Bank of Korea kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.4 per cent to 4,315.22. Markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks snapped a three-day losing streak. Encouraging employment and inflation data pushed the S&P 500 to a record high and the Dow came within 36 points of its own record. The Dow rose 191.75 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 18,252.24. The S&P 500 index gained 22.62 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 2,121.10.

THE QUOTE: “Maybe it is a stretch to suggest that markets paused to ponder, but there were shades of a reality check as US dollar and bond market bears took a step back,” Mizuho Bank Ltd. said in a commentary. “Arguably, overdone fears of the U.S. recovery being derailed were assuaged by the reality check of resilient jobless claims numbers at a 15-year low!”

CHINA WEAKNESS: Slow growth in investment and the money supply indicated that stimulus has yet to staunch the slowdown of the world’s second-largest economy. Data this week showed that fixed asset investment grew at the slowest pace in 15 years, in keeping with government policy aimed at shifting away from heavy reliance on such spending to drive growth, but worrying for investors who fear a too sharp slowdown.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 15 cents to $59.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 62 cents to close at $59.88 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, lost 2 cents to $66.68 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 119.36 yen from 119.21 on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1413 from $1.1400.