Asia stock markets mixed, Singapore shares open higher after Wall Street rally

Asia stock markets mixed, Singapore shares open higher after Wall Street rally

Asia markets traded mixed Monday morning, with the Japanese market falling behind its regional peers.

Singapore's Straits Times Index opened up 2.48 points to 2,839.48, The Business Times reported.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 was down 0.52 per cent in early trade; across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was flat.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.88 per cent, boosted by gains in the energy, materials and heavily-weighted financials sector. The sectors were up 3.21, 3.1 and 0.74 per cent respectively.

In currency trade, the Australian dollar slipped against the US dollar after touching US$0.7443 (S$1.02) Friday, its highest highest level for 2016. The pair was trading down 0.3 per cent at 0.7417 early Monday.

Down Under, miners gained broadly, with Rio Tinto up 3.5 per cent, BHP Billiton up 5.55 per cent and Fortescue adding 12.25 per cent.

The Japanese yen also maintained its strength against the dollar, staying at the 113 handle. The pair traded at 113.72 as of 8:10 a.m. local time. Japanese exporters traded mixed, with Toyota down 0.83 per cent and Nissan adding 1.19 per cent. A stronger yen is usually a negative for exporters as it reduces their overseas profit when converted into local currency.

Markets are likely to react today to China's new economic targets released on Saturday at the National People's Congress (NPC) meeting. This include a revised growth target of between 6.5 and 7 per cent for 2016, a consumer price index growth target of around 3 per cent and a budget deficit at 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2016, Reuters reported.

Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG, said in his morning note that the revised GDP target for 2016 is "almost a 'whatever it takes' comment, and shows China will not take its foot off the growth accelerator."

Qu Hongbin, chief China economist at HSBC, said in a separate note, "We believe that a larger fiscal deficit (both nominal and actual), together with more bond issuance and other innovative fiscal expansionary measures, reflects a significant expansion of fiscal policy in 2016."

"This will provide greater support to the financing needs of infrastructure projects, which holds the key to [stabilize] growth. We expected infrastructure investment will be become stronger, and there will be more progresses in tax reduction, increased subsidy to migrant workers' property purchase needs and other supply side reforms in 2016," Qu added.

In the energy market, US crude futures were up 0.84 per cent at US$36.22 a barrel as of 8:23 a.m. HK/SIN time, after gaining 9.5 per cent last week. Globally traded Brent futures gained 10.31 per cent the previous week.

Energy plays across the region were mixed, with Santos adding 3.46 per cent, Woodside Petroleum up 2.96 per cent and Japan Petroleum up 0.5 per cent. Inpex, however, shed 0.94 per cent, while Fuji Oil was down 1.4 per cent.

The US non-farm payroll number released last Friday showed the US economy added a better-than-expected 242,000 jobs in February, mitigating some concerns that the economy was joining a global slowdown. Economists had expected 190,000 new positions.

On Friday, major US indexes closed up, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 0.37 per cent, the S&P 500 adding 0.33 per cent and the Nasdaq composite gaining 0.2 per cent.

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