Asian stocks mixed on improved China trade, Japan GDP data

BEIJING, China – Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday as some benchmarks bounced back after Japan upgraded its growth estimate and China reported weak but improved trade in May.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4 per cent to 2,925.11 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.3 per cent to 21,257.75. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 per cent to 16,796.06 while Seoul’s Kospi advanced 0.7 per cent to 2,025.36. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 retreated a smidgen to 5,369.60 and New Zealand also declined. India’s Sensex advanced 0.1 per cent to 27,050.31. Benchmarks for Taiwan and Singapore rose but Indonesia was lower.

WALL STREET: Stocks edged up, led by gains for energy companies as oil prices rose. Chevron rose 2.1 per cent while Newfield Exploration added 4.7 per cent. The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index both gained 0.1 per cent. The Nasdaq composite, heavily weighted with biotech companies, lost 0.1 per cent.

GLOBAL GROWTH: The World Bank cut its forecast for this year’s global economic growth to 2.4 per cent from the 2.9 per cent pace projected in January. It cited sluggish growth in advanced economies, stubbornly low commodity prices, weak global trade and diminishing capital flows. It said half the revision was prompted by the struggle of commodity-exporting economies to adapt to lower prices for oil and other key commodities.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “It does seem like the various financial markets are a little disjointed, as trades are somewhat odd,” said Bernard Aw of IG in a report. He pointed to a slump in yields on German, Japanese and other sovereign bonds, which forces investors to buy riskier assets. “Global equities are firmer, but it is not indicative of an uptake in risk appetite,” said Aw. “The up-move was mostly driven by higher oil prices.”

JAPAN TICKS UP: Japan revised its growth estimate for the first quarter of the year to 1.9 per cent from the earlier report of 1.7 per cent annualized growth. The upgrade reflected improved figures for coporate investment, though economists expect growth to weaken in the current quarter.

CHINESE TRADE: China reported exports and imports contracted again in May in a sign of weak global and domestic demand. Exports fell 4.1 per cent from a year earlier compared with April’s 1.8 per cent decline. Imports shrank 0.4 per cent to $131.1 billion, an improvement over the previous month’s 10.9 per cent fall and better performance than forecasters expected. The weakness threatens to disrupt Beijing’s efforts to lift the economy out of a slump, potentially requiring more stimulus that would set back efforts to reduce reliance on trade and investment.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 14 cents to $50.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 67 cents on Tuesday to close at $50.36. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 7 cents to $51.51 per barrel in London. It jumped 89 cents the previous session to $51.44.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 107.07 yen from Tuesday’s 107.31 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1370 from $1.1356.