Asian markets mostly up, Tokyo extends gains

Asian markets mostly up, Tokyo extends gains

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mostly higher on Wednesday, with Tokyo supported by the weak yen, while Shanghai and Hong Kong traders digested a rare trade deficit for China in March.

On Wall Street the Dow index provided support as it climbed to yet another record on hopes for the US economy and optimism about the January-March earnings season that started this week.

Tokyo rose 0.73 per cent by the break, while Hong Kong was up 0.30 per cent and Seoul added 0.64 per cent, but Sydney was 0.21 per cent lower and Shanghai was flat.

China's customs agency said Wednesday exports climbed a below forecast 10.0 per cent last month, and imports jumped a bigger-than-expected 14.1 per cent, while the country saw a trade deficit of US$880 million (S$990 million). Economists had tipped a surplus of US$14.7 billion (S$18.2 billion).

The news come a day after officials said inflation had come in below estimates, which analysts said indicates ongoing weakness in the world's number two economy, which is struggling to recover from slower growth last year.

Dongxing Securities analyst Sun Zheng said the data show "external demand still remains weak, which is widely known to the market".

He told Dow Jones Newswires that "investors will pay more attention to indicators that reflect companies' business operations, profitability and revenue growth".

In Tokyo the Nikkei resumed its upward trend, having piled on around 10 per cent since the Bank of Japan's stimulus package last week, which sent the yen tumbling against the dollar to levels not seen since May 2009.

In early Tokyo trade the greenback bought 99.03 yen (S$1.24), while the euro was at 129.56 yen (S$1.62) in early trade against 99.18 and 129.73 in New York Tuesday.

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