Asia markets trade higher, with Singapore shares up over 10 points

Asia markets trade higher, with Singapore shares up over 10 points

Markets in Asia opened higher Monday, with Japan extending gains. But analysts expect some rocky trading this week amid a deluge of economic data in the region.

"Markets look set for a volatile week as a raft of data releases globally set markets up for a dramatic reweighting of growth expectations," wrote Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG, in his morning note.

Singapore's Straits Times Index opened 0.38 per cent, or 10.86 points higher at 2,660.24 in early trade, reported The Business Times.

The Japanese benchmark index, the Nikkei 225, was up 1.53 per cent in early trade after adding about 1.39 per cent last week. Early movers on the index included Sharp.

Shares of the troubled Japanese electronics maker were down as much as 4.55 per cent in early trade before retracing some of the losses to trade down 1.52 per cent. Its shares have fallen 26 per cent between Feb. 23 and Feb. 26. Sharp shares fell after its takeover deal from Taiwan's Foxconn, which was announced last Thursday, was put on a hold. The latter said it would not sign the deal until Sharp clarified previously undisclosed contingent liabilities, reported Reuters.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was up 0.2 per cent.

Australian's S&P/ASX 200's was up 0.66 per cent in early trade, with most sectors gaining. The heavily-weighted financials sector was up 0.53 per cent while the gold sector fell 1.87 per cent.

Despite expected gains in shares Monday, analysts also believe risk appetite remain "exceptionally weak" as more investors have turned to safe-haven assets in recent weeks. Vishnu Varathan from Mizuho Bank wrote in a morning note, "US 10-year bond yields dropping below 1.8 per cent and sharp gains in safe-haven Japanese yen and gold prove this point."

Economic data due this week include Japan's industrial production numbers on Monday, Australia's fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) and Chinese factory activity data. Japan's January retail sales data are also due today.

In Asian hours, US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for April delivery erased losses of over 0.4 per cent to trade up 0.15 per cent at $32.83 a barrel; US crude futures gained about 3 per cent last week, while global benchmark Brent gained about 6.33 per cent for the week, finishing at $35.10 a barrel.

Energy plays in Down Under were mostly down, with Santos off by 0.62 per cent and Woodside Petroleum losing 1 per cent.

"Global crude prices are convulsing (albeit at rather low levels) amid 'on-off' hopes of global oil production cuts. This adds yet another layer of volatility to an already bifurcated global market," Varathan added in his note.

Stateside on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.34 per cent, while the S&P 500 ended lower by 0.19 per cent. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.18 per cent.

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