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Market Update

Asian Markets Slip; Shanghai Recovers

Asian markets slipped into negative territory Thursday after key economic data pointing to higher-than-expected inflation in China and a wider drop in core machinery orders in Japan dampened investor confidence.

The Nikkei was down 0.6% at the time of writing. The Shanghai Composite pared early losses and was flat. The Hang Seng was down 0.2% while the Sensex gained 0.5%. The ASP/ASX All Ordinaries gave up 0.5%.

China’s consumer prices in January rose at a faster-than-expected 4.5%, trouncing expectations of easing monetary policy. Meanwhile, official data in Japan indicated core machinery orders in December dropped 7.1% against an estimated 5%, which further weighed on market sentiment.   

Stocks on the move

In Japan, shares of industrial firms were hit with Komatsu erasing 1.6%. Hitachi Construction Machinery was down 1.7%, while Kawasaki Heavy Industries gave up 1.8%.

Carmakers also edged lower. Nissan Motor was down 1.2% while Honda Motors shed nearly 1%.  Toyota Motors slipped 0.2%.

On the plus side, Nippon Paper Group gained 6.4% after the company posted improved earnings yesterday. Mitsubishi Paper Mills, too, jumped 13.2% on better prospects.  

In Hong Kong, property firms and banks were trading lower after the release of Chinese inflation data. Cheung Kong fell 2.3%.

Among banks, ICBC erased 1.3% while Citic Securities was down nearly 1%.

Refiners gained some ground with Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. adding nearly 1%. CNOOC was up 0.5% while PetroChina erased 0.7%.

In Mumbai, Cairn gained 2.5% as the company’s output at its Rajasthan block increased to 133,000 barrels per day.

Among gainers, Bajaj Auto, NTPC and Jindal Steel gained 1.0%-1.5% in early trading.

Hindalco erased 5.4% ahead of earnings to be released today.

Front-liners like TCS, Bharti Airtel and ONGC shed around 1.0%-1.5%.

In Sydney, mining companies traded lower, China being the country’s largest export market. Fortescue Metals shed 1.2%. Rio Tinto was down 0.2% ahead of its full-year results due today after the bell.

BHP Billiton was down 2% after the company reported Wednesday a drop of 5.5% in its first-half profit.

Telstra, Australia’s largest telco was down nearly 2% after the company reported a less-than-expected 22.9% increase in its half-year net profit

More on earnings, News Corp gained 1.6% after the media giant reported a 65% increase in its second-quarter profit.

Tabcorp Holdings was up 1.8% after the wagering and gaming firm lifted its first half underlying profit by 14.1%.