Asia Markets

Asian shares close mixed after China GDP meets expectations

Key Points
  • Asia markets were mixed; the Hang Seng Index tumbled late in the day
  • Japan trade data underwhelmed
  • China third-quarter GDP met expectations, September retail sales and industrial production beat expectations; fixed asset investment missed
  • New Zealand dollar fell following coalition announcement

Major indexes in Asia closed mixed on Thursday as investors digested a barrage of economic data releases out of China.

The Nikkei 225 climbed 0.4 percent, or 85.47 points, to close at 21,448.52. The benchmark index has closed higher for 13 consecutive sessions now.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi declined 0.4 percent to close at 2,473.06. Automakers climbed, but those gains were offset by falls in blue-chip tech names: Samsung Electronics closed down 3.25 percent, SK Hynix declined 2.35 percent and Hyundai Motor rose 0.66 percent.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 closed up 0.1 percent at 5,896.129 as losses in major miners were offset by gains in banks and information technology stocks. The heavily-weighted financials sub-index advanced 0.49 percent.

Greater China markets finished the session lower as investors digested the release of economic data earlier in the session. Hong Kong's tumbled sharply late in the session to close down 1.92 percent, or 552.67 points, at 28,159.09. Telecommunications equipment maker ZTE closed down 11.36 percent after reporting preliminary results. Property and casino stocks also recorded losses on the day.

On the mainland, the slid 0.35 percent to close off session lows at 3,370.0953 and the Shenzhen Composite fell 0.82 percent to end at 1,983.7179.

India markets are closed for a public holiday.

Third-quarter GDP showed the Chinese economy grew 6.8 percent compared to a year ago, meeting analyst expectations. That was a touch softer than the 6.9 percent growth seen in the second quarter of the year.

Other data releases were mixed. China's industrial production increased 6.6 percent in September compared to one year ago, beating the 6.2 percent forecast in a Reuters poll. September retail sales also topped expectations, increasing by 10.3 percent compared to the previous year, above the 10.2 percent forecast. Fixed asset investment for the month, however, came up short.

"[W]ith the GDP coming in on consensus, whatever bullish sentiment the markets were positioned for an upside surprise after [People's Bank of China Governor] Zhou Xiaochuan's comments ... that the economy could grow 7 percent in the second half of the year should get priced out quickly," said Stephen Innes, APAC head of trading at OANDA, in a note.

Zhou, who had made those comments earlier on Monday, warned Thursday that China would deflect risks resulting from unrestrained optimism to prevent a collapse in asset prices, Reuters reported.

Following that, the Australian dollar traded a touch higher on the day at $0.7856 at 4:17 p.m. HK/SIN. Still, the currency remained below a session high of $0.7875 seen just after the release of stronger-than-expected employment data early in the day. Employment rose by 19,800 compared to a projected increase of 15,000, Reuters reported.

In other economic news, growth in Japan's exports and imports came in just short of forecasts. Government data showed the country's exports increased 14.1 percent in September compared to a year ago, short of the 14.9 percent forecast in a Reuters poll. Japan's imports rose 12 percent in the same period, below the 15 percent median forecast.

The dollar was touch softer against the yen on the day at 112.53, although it traded at levels above the 113 handle before the data release.

Also in currencies, the sank following an announcement that Labour leader Jacinda Ardern would become prime minister after securing support from a nationalist party, Reuters reported. The Kiwi dollar traded at $0.7034 at 4:19 p.m. HK/SIN, off levels around the $0.715 handle in the last session.

Stateside, robust quarterly earnings reports propelled the Dow's close above the 23,000 level for the first time on Wednesday. The index closed up 0.7 percent, or 160.16 points, to end at 23,157.60. The Dow first cracked the 23,000 mark on Tuesday, but had closed just under that level. Other major U.S. indexes notched slight gains.

Yields on U.S. Treasury notes slid after rising overnight following economic releases, including the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, stateside. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note stood at 2.3196 percent compared to Wednesday's 2.3447 percent.

Yields on the 2-year Treasury bill had touched their highest levels in around 10 years overnight, supported by comments from New York Fed President William Dudley that the central bank was on course to meeting its interest rate forecast for 2017.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, was flat at 93.405 at 4:23 p.m. HK/SIN, after edging down overnight on uninspiring U.S. economic data.

On the energy front, oil prices slumped late in the day. Brent crude lost 1.26 percent to trade at $57.26 a barrel and U.S. crude futures slid 1.35 percent to trade at $51.34.

In central bank-related news, the Bank of Korea kept rates on hold, as was widely expected.