Asian markets mostly up despite downbeat Japan data

PHOTO: Asian markets mostly up despite downbeat Japan data

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mostly up on Monday despite Japan posting lower-than-expected economic growth and off the back of US stocks retreating from record peaks last week.

Tokyo stocks were flat by the break adding a negligible 0.10 points to 13,615.29, while Sydney rose 0.64 per cent and Seoul was up 0.39 per cent.

Hong Kong led the gains jumping 1.64 per cent while Shanghai also rose 1.21 per cent, buoyed by positive economic data out of China late last week.

On Friday, China reported industrial growth for July reached a five-month high, easing fears that the world's second largest economy was heading towards a slowdown.

Industrial production, which measures output at factories, workshops and mines, rose 9.7 per cent year-on-year, well above analyst expectations.

In contrast, disappointing figures out of Japan Monday showed economic growth in the world's third largest economy slowed in the April-June quarter, raising questions about Tokyo's bid to revive its economy after years of stagnation.

The Cabinet office said Japan's economy expanded by 0.6 per cent from the previous quarter, slower than a revised 0.9 per cent increase between January and March.

The figures indicate an annualised increase of 2.6 per cent, down from the 4.1 per cent annual rate in the first three months of the year.

The markets will now look to key US economic figures - including retail sales and industrial output - which are due out this week as investors eye clues as to when the US Federal Reserve will start rolling back its huge stimulus drive.

US stocks last week retreated from record peaks and finished lower after a sluggish week that was light on news and trading volume.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 1.49 per cent at 15,425.51 while the Nasdaq Composite Index retreated 0.80 per cent to 3,660.11.

With investor spirits deflated off the back of Japan's disappointing growth data the dollar retreated against the yen.

In morning Tokyo trading, the greenback stood at 96.05 yen (S$1.2553), softening from 96.24 yen in New York Friday.

The euro bought US$1.3336 (S$1.6766) and 128.28 yen, nearly flat from $1.3338 and 128.35 in US markets.

In oil markets, New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in September, was down seven cents to $105.90 a barrel in mid-morning Asian trade and Brent North Sea crude for September shed 25 cents to $107.97.

Gold was at $1,329.63 at 0300 GMT compared with $1,309 late Friday.