Asia Markets

Japan falls nearly 3% after historic U.S. GDP contraction; China's factory activity beats expectations

Key Points
  • Data released Thursday by the U.S. government showed GDP dropping 32.9% in the second quarter — the worst drop ever, with the closest previously coming in mid-1921.
  • China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for July came in above expectations at 51.1, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics. Analysts polled by Reuters expected a reading of 50.7.
  • Markets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were closed for a holiday on Friday.

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Friday following a record contraction in U.S. gross domestic in the second quarter.

Japanese stocks led losses among Asia's major markets, with the Nikkei 225 down 2.82% to close at 21,710 as shares of conglomerate Softbank Group dropped 4.39% while the Topix index ending its trading day at 2.82% to 1,496.06. Shares in Australia also saw sizable losses with the S&P/ASX 200 falling 2.04% to close at 5,927.80.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.71% to about 3,310.01 while the Shenzhen component gained 1.27% to around 13,637.88.

China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for July came in above expectations at 51.1, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics. Analysts polled by Reuters expected a reading of 50.7.

"(China's) the only economy that we think will get back to pre-Covid heights this year," Sean Taylor, chief investment officer for Asia Pacific at DWS, told CNBC's "Capital Connection" on Friday. "We are impressed with … the rise in the … Chinese economy. We just have to watch if it's sustainable."

Meanwhile, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong slipped 0.14%, as of its final hour of trading. The Kospi in South Korea shed 0.78% to close at 2,249.37.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index dipped 0.16%.

Markets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were closed for a holiday on Friday.

Data released Thursday by the U.S. government showed GDP dropping 32.9% in the second quarter — the worst drop ever, with the closest previously coming in mid-1921. Still, the data print was not as bad as feared, with economists polled by Dow Jones having expected a 34.7% decline. U.S. weekly jobless claims also came in at 1.434 million, the Labor Department reported Tuesday, roughly in line with estimates.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 92.552 after declining from levels above 93.8 earlier in the trading week.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.35 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 105.3 against the greenback this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7217 after yesterday's turbulent trading saw it slide below $0.716.

Oil prices were up in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures adding 0.65% to $43.22 per barrel. U.S. crude futures rose 0.7% to $40.20 per barrel.