Asian shares lifted by stronger China growth numbers

AP – Shares advanced in Asia yesterday after China reported its economy grew at a 4.9 per cent annual pace in the last quarter, with consumer spending and industrial production rising to pre-pandemic levels.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 led the gains, adding more than one per cent.

China was the first country to suffer coronavirus outbreaks and the first major economy emerge from the pandemic and begin reopening from pandemic shutdowns. After contracting 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year the economy grew 3.2 per cent in the April-June quarter.

Both the annual growth and a 2.7 per cent quarterly expansion were weaker than expected.

Still, the recovery of Asia’s largest economy is good news for other countries that rely heavily on trade with China, including Japan. It reported yesterday that its exports fell at a slower pace in September from a year earlier, partly thanks to higher demand from China.

The Nikkei 225 index added 1.1 per cent to 23,671.13 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.9 per cent to 24,598.96. In South Korea, the Kospi edged 0.2 per cent higher to 2,346.74, while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia surged 0.9 per cent to 6,229.40.

Thailand’s stock benchmark dropped 1.8 per cent as political protests that have rocked Bangkok in recent days spread to at least a dozen provinces outside the capital.

People stand by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

Shares rose in India and Southeast Asia. New Zealand’s benchmark was flat after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern handily won a second term in Saturday’s election. Ardern’s liberal Labour Party took a solid majority, winning 49 per cent of the vote and crushing the conservative National Party, which got 27 per cent.

The Shanghai Composite index shed early gains, falling 0.7 per cent to 3,312.67 as investors logged profits on the expectation that the data have doused the chances for major stimulus measures that might help boost markets.

The National Bureau of Statistics reported that industrial production rose 5.8 per cent in July-September over the same quarter last year, a marked improvement over the first half’s 1.3 per cent contraction.

Retail sales rose 0.9 per cent over a year earlier, up from a 7.2 per cent contraction in the first half, when consumers already anxious about a slowing economy and a tariff war with Washington tightened their belts.

Meanwhile, hopes for new stimulus for the United States (US) economy were muted, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying time is running out to get measures passed before the November 3 election.

Wall Street closed out a choppy week of trading with more of the same on Friday, as a late-afternoon stumble led US stock indexes to a mixed finish. The S&P 500 ended the day just a fraction of a point higher at 3,483.81. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 per cent, to 28,606.31. The Nasdaq fell 0.4 per cent to 11,671.56, while the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks dropped 0.3 per cent to 1,633.81.

Big Tech and energy companies fell while health care and industrial stocks rose. The mixed performance matched the mixed data: the US government reported that retail sales rose in September for the fifth straight month, while the Federal Reserve said US industrial production had its weakest showing since the spring.

Stock indexes have recouped most of their losses from a swoon as talks between Democrats and Republicans on an economic stimulus package failed to deliver results.