Asia Markets

Asia stocks mixed as investors weigh prospects of economic recovery from coronavirus pandemic

Key Points
  • Shares in Asia were mixed on Thursday.
  • Australia retail sales for April plunged a seasonally adjusted 17.7% in April, according to data released Thursday by the country's Bureau of Statistics.
  • A Wednesday report from ADP showed private payrolls stateside falling by 2.76 million in May — much less than the 8.75 million expected from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Stocks in Asia were mixed on Thursday as investors assessed the prospects of economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.36% to close at 22,695.74 while the Topix index ended its trading day 0.3% higher at 1,603.82. South Korea's Kospi also closed 0.19% higher at 2,151.18, adding to its nearly 3% Wednesday gains.

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed on the day, with the Shenzhen component up 0.278% to about 11,139.26. The Shanghai composite, on the other hand, shed 0.14% to around 2,919.25. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 0.27% lower, as of its final hour of trading.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia rose by the market close, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.84% to 5,991.80. Australia retail sales for April plunged a seasonally adjusted 17.7% in April, according to data released Thursday by the country's Bureau of Statistics.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index edged 0.1% higher.

"We're cautiously optimistic on Asia," said Suresh Tantia, a senior investment strategist at Credit Suisse's Asia-Pacific CIO Office. "I think we've already seen a strong rally on the back of policy stimulus and also because of the recent weakness in (the) U.S. dollar."

"It seems like in Asia, the price momentum is shaping the narrative for now, but I think for markets to see a sustainable rally we need to strong signs of economic or earnings recovery," Tantia told CNBC's "Capital Connection" on Thursday.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a three-day winning streak while the S&P 500 notched its first four-day winning streak since early February. The moves on Wall Street came as a Wednesday report from ADP showed private payrolls stateside falling by 2.76 million in May — much less than the 8.75 million expected from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Oil prices drop

Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures 1.33% lower at $39.26 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also dropped 1.93% to $36.57 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.546 following its slide from levels above 98 seen earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.04 per dollar after weakening sharply earlier  this week from levels below 108. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6893, following its rise from levels below $0.68 seen earlier in the trading week.