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Market Update

Nikkei Surges; China GDP Tops Forecast

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The Nikkei outperformed regional Asian bourses Wednesday even as China released data showing better-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter.

The Nikkei advanced 3%. The Shanghai Composite edged up 0.2% while the Hang Seng edged marginally up 0.1%. The Sensex bucked the trend, ending 0.9% lower while the All Ordinaries added 0.6%.

China's GDP grew 7.4% in the first quarter, down from 7.7% in the previous quarter, but better than expectations calling for a growth rate of 7.3%.

Other reports showed China's industrial production was up 8.8% in March from a year ago, slightly below expectations. However, retail sales rose 12.2%, just above expectations for a 12.1% gain.

China's housing sales in the three months ended March fell 7.7% to 1.11 trillion yuan while total property investment in the country in the first quarter rose 16.8%.

In Japan, data showed February industrial output fell 2.3% month-on-month, in line with a preliminary estimate.

Amid the positive data points, escalating tensions in Ukraine remained in the backdrop as Russia declared the country to be on the brink of civil war with heavy fighting continuing in the eastern region. The news took a toll on European markets Tuesday.

Stocks on the Move

Softbank surged 8.5%, boosting the Nikkei. Earlier, Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba – in which Softbank holds 37% - reported more than a doubling in its fourth-quarter net profit. Expectations are also high for a blockbuster initial public offering from Alibaba.

Another index heavyweight, Sony rose 2.3% while Panasonic and Olympus added 4.4% and 6% each, respectively.

In auto names, Toyota gained 2.3% and Mazda added 4.1%. Honda and Nissan were up 2.3% and a percent each, respectively.

Yahoo Japan added 4.3% after strong results overnight on Wall Street from its parent Yahoo! Inc.

In Hong Kong, Tencent added 1.1% tracking gains in U.S. tech stocks overnight and a good earnings report from rival Alibaba.

In Mumbai, IT stocks turned lower late noon, dragging the index lower with them. Top Indian firm Infosys ended 3.2% lower, along with BHEL.

Tata Power was the top loser, down 3.6%.

Wipro and L&T fell 2.9% each while Mumbai-based TCS fell 2.5% ahead of its results due later this evening.

Tata Steel was up 1.4% after it said both its domestic annual production and sales touched record levels in 2013-14 at 9.15 million tonnes and 8.52 million tonnes, respectively.

In Sydney, BHP Billiton was up 0.4%. The mining major boosted its outlook for iron-ore production for the second time this financial year citing strong performance from a new mine and productivity improvements across operations.

Fortescue Metals added 1.1%. Rio Tinto ended flat.

Rouhan Sharma does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.