HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian stocks were mixed Friday as investors awaited the release of Chinese economic statistics at the weekend and global sentiment was dampened by the upcoming Scottish independence vote and weak inflation data.
Tokyo climbed to a fresh eight-month high, gaining 0.25 per cent, or 39.09 points, to 15,948.29 as the yen lost further ground against the greenback, shrugging off a weak lead from Wall Street.
Hong Kong stocks eased 0.27 per cent, or 67.32 points, to 24,595.32 and Sydney also lost 0.27 per cent, or 15.03 points, to 5,531.1 but Seoul gained 0.38 per cent, or 7.70 points, to 2,041.86 and Shanghai added 0.88 per cent, or 20.27 points, to 2,331.95.
China will on Saturday announce figures including retail sales and fixed asset investment for August. Data released Thursday showed inflation easing to a four-month low, fuelling the case for a further easing in monetary policy.
“The markets are behaving in a pretty orderly manner,” said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.
“The Nikkei might test the 16,000 mark intraday, but it would take another surge in the dollar to do it,” he said, as Tokyo’s headline share index reached 15,970.50 around noon.
The mixed performance in Asian markets came after US stocks finished little changed Thursday as concerns about the September 18 referendum on Scottish independence and weak global inflation data weighed on sentiment.
The prospect of a Scottish vote in favour of secession has sent jitters through European markets. Two banks – RBS and Lloyd’s – warned they may relocate to London if Scotland separates from the United Kingdom.
The global growth outlook was seen as dimming in view of the Chinese inflation data as well as figures showing German inflation stood at 0.8 per cent in August, its lowest level since February 2010.
China’s inflation outcome, which came in well below the government’s annual target, came at a time of concern over the world’s second-largest economy as stimulus measures enacted earlier this year wear off.
The dollar was at 107.23 yen in afternoon Asian trade, from 107.11 yen in New York. The dollar last breached the 107-yen level in September 2008, during the global financial crisis.
The euro rose to 138.69 yen from 138.39 yen, while it was flat at $1.2921 against $1.2919 in the US.
On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery rose 27 cents to $93.10 while Brent crude for October eased 13 cents to $97.95 after the International Energy Agency slashed its forecast for world crude demand this year.
Gold retreated to $1,237.10 an ounce in late afternoon Asian trade, against $1,248.71 late Thursday.