Asian Shares Slide As Focus Shifts To U.S. Inflation Data
Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Tuesday as investors awaited U.S. inflation data later this week for more indications about the Fed’s policy outlook.
Chinese shares fell, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropping 19.43 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,580.11. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended marginally lower at 28,781.38.
Japanese shares ended a volatile session lower, snapping two straight sessions of gains even as the government revised first quarter GDP higher.
Japan’s gross domestic product shrank an annualized 3.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021, the Cabinet Office said in a final reading amid a resurge of COVID-19 cases and slow vaccine rollouts. That exceeded expectations for a decline of 4.8 percent following the 11.7 percent surge in the three months prior.
On a quarterly basis, GDP was down 1.0 percent – again beating forecasts for a decline of 1.2 percent following the 2.8 percent increase in the previous three months.
The Nikkei 225 Index slipped 55.68 points, or 0.2 percent, to 28,963.56, while the broader Topix finished marginally lower at 1,962.65. Eisai shares soared 19.3 percent as U.S. regulators approved a new drug developed by Biogen and Eisai for Alzheimer’s disease.
Australian markets swung between gains and losses before finishing slightly higher for the day as new coronavirus cases declined and a survey of business conditions reached a record high in May.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index hit a record high before ending the session up 10.70 points, or 0.2 percent, at 7,292.60. The broader All Ordinaries Index inched up 10.70 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,542.30.
Tech stocks tracked the Nasdaq higher, with Afterpay, Xero and Appen climbing 1-3 percent. Nearmap rallied 4.6 percent and Wisetech Global shares surged 5.8 percent.
Miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto fell about 1 percent as iron ore prices declined. Gold miner Northern Star Resources rose over 1 percent as gold held near the key level of $1,900 an ounce in Asian trading on dollar weakness and lower bond yields.
Seoul stocks slipped into the red as valuation concerns offset hopes of a swifter economic recovery. The benchmark Kospi dipped 4.29 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 3,247.83.
Chipmaker SK Hynix shed 0.8 percent and chemical firm LG Chem gave up 0.7 percent, while pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics advanced 1.5 percent and automaker Hyundai Motor added 0.8 percent.
South Korea’s current account surplus shrank dramatically in April, the Bank of Korea said today, coming in at $1.91 billion. That’s down sharply from 7.82 billion in March. The goods account surplus increased to $4.56 billion, compared to $0.7 billion in April.
New Zealand shares eked out modest gains, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index ending up 21.38 points, or 0.2 percent, at 12,517.65. A2 Milk, Spark New Zealand and Contact Energy climbed 1-2 percent.
U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight amid lingering inflation worries and news of a global minimum corporate tax rate.
The Dow dropped 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose half a percent.
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