Asian Shares Mixed As COVID Worries Weigh
Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Monday as investors digested a slew of economic data from China and kept a wary eye on the COVID-19 surge across much of Asia.
Traders also eyed the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s latest meeting, due out Wednesday, for further clues to officials’ views on the recovery.
China’s industrial output rose 9.8 percent year-on-year in April, matching expectations, while retail sales increased 17.7 percent, falling short of estimates of 24.9 percent, separate reports released earlier in the day showed. Fixed asset investment spiked an annual 19.9 percent, beating forecasts.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed 27.24 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,517.62, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 166.52 points, or 0.6 percent, to 28,194.09.
Meanwhile, Japanese shares retreated as the government enhanced its response to tackle the fourth wave of coronavirus infections with expanded and extended states of emergency in more areas. The Nikkei 225 Index ended down 259.64 points, or 0.9 percent, at 27,824.83, while the broader Topix closed 0.2 percent lower at 1,878.86.
SoftBank and Fast Retailing fell about 1 percent amid pandemic concerns. Tech stocks ended lower, with Tokyo Electron ending down as much as 3.7 percent.
Honda Motor lost 2.7 percent after the carmaker forecast a 10.3 percent drop in net profit in the current business year through next March.
Australian markets saw modest strength, with gold miners and energy companies leading the way higher. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged up 9.40 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,023.60 despite fears of escalating Aussie-China tussles. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 16.40 points, or 0.2 percent, at 7,255.80.
Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources jumped 5-7 percent as bullion prices hit over three-month highs on worries over surging coronavirus infections in some Asian countries.
Ampol surged 6.1 percent and Viva Energy soared 7 percent after both fuel suppliers received massive government funding to keep their refineries open.
Casino giant Crown Resorts rose 0.9 percent after its board officially rejected the improved $8.3 billion takeover offer from U.S. private equity group Blackstone.
Incitec Pivot shares fell 1.7 percent after the fertilizer and chemical company reported a profit for the first half that halved from last year.
Seoul stocks ended lower as caution prevailed amid spikes in coronavirus cases in parts of Asia, with Taiwan and Singapore imposing new restrictions against the virus. The benchmark Kospi dropped 18.80 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,134.52.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics shed 0.6 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix dipped 0.8 percent. Drug maker SK Bioscience jumped 9.3 percent after its production facility for AstraZeneca and Novavax COVID-19 vaccines received certification approval from the European Medicines Agency.
New Zealand shares eked out modest gains as investors cheered upbeat visitor arrivals and service sector activity data. The benchmark NZX-50 Index inched up 42.61 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,410.47.
U.S. stocks closed higher on Friday as commodity prices dropped and Treasury yields continued to ease, helping investors shrug off weaker-than-expected industrial production, consumer sentiment and retail sales figures.
The Dow climbed 1.1 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.3 percent and the S&P 500 rallied 1.5 percent.
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