Asian markets mixed, China data offsets US jobs news
HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets were mixed Monday after another record-breaking performance on Wall Street while Shanghai dipped as disappointing economic data fuelled concerns about China’s economy.
The dollar got a boost from better-than-forecast US jobs figures, hitting multi-year highs against the yen.
Tokyo rose 0.53 per cent, or 65.43 points, to 12,349.05, while Sydney added 0.46 per cent, or 23.5 points, to 5,146.9 – its highest close since September 2008.
Seoul eased 0.13 per cent, losing 2.66 points to close at 2,003.35, while Shanghai lost 0.35 per cent, or 8.02 points, to end at 2,310.59 and Hong Kong was flat, dipping 1.13 points to 23,090.82.
In Washington the Labor Department reported the United States generated a net 236,000 new jobs in February, far more than expected, pulling the unemployment rate down to a four-year low of 7.7 per cent from 7.9 per cent.
The report reinforced views that the economy is solidifying its recovery, while analysts said underlying figures and upcoming spending cuts meant the Federal Reserve was unlikely to take its foot off its monetary easing soon.
On Wall Street the Dow broke the 14,400 line for the first time, before finishing at 14,397.07, up 0.47 per cent and a new record for a fourth straight session.
The S&P 500 also rose 0.45 per cent to 1,551.18, approaching its own record high, while the Nasdaq added 0.38 per cent.
And on forex markets the greenback rose in New York by more than one yen Friday to end at 95.97 yen.
In Tokyo Monday the dollar bought 96.04 yen, while the euro stood at $1.3013 and 124.99 yen, from $1.3004 and 124.83 yen in New York on Friday.
The strong performance in the United States was slightly overshadowed by results from Beijing Saturday that showed inflation at a 10-month high of 3.2 per cent in February while growth in industrial output and retail sales slowed.
Inflation is a key issue for the ruling Communist Party as it raises the chances of popular discontent over climbing prices and the threat of social unrest.
The figures raise concerns that the pick-up in the economy may be slowing while dealers are also worried the government will unveil tightening measures to temper prices.
“The world’s largest economy continues to recover, while the world’s second-largest economy looks like it has run into a bit of a soft patch,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research at Perpetual in Sydney, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Oil prices eased, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April down 13 cents at $91.82 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for April dipping 24 cents to $110.61 in late afternoon trade.
Gold was at $1,581.62 at 0800 GMT compared with $1,578.68 late Friday.