Asia Markets

Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as China's December trade data beat expectations

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Key Points
  • China's exports rose 18.1% in December as compared with a year earlier, according to customs data released Thursday.
  • Trial data published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Johnson & Johnson's one-shot Covid vaccine is safe and appears to generate a immune response in both young and elderly volunteers.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Thursday as investors regionally reacted to Chinese trade data for December.

Mainland Chinese stocks declined on the day: The Shanghai composite shed 0.91% to 3,565.90 while the Shenzhen component dropped 1.922% to 15,070.13. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.68%, as of its final hour of trading.

China's exports rose 18.1% in December as compared with a year earlier, according to customs data released Thursday. That was higher than expectations for a 15% increase by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, China's imports grew 6.5% year-on-year in December, as compared with expectations for a 5% rise in a Reuters poll.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.85% to close at 28,698.26 while the Topix index edged 0.48% higher to finish its trading day at 1,873.28.

South Korea's Kospi closed slightly higher at 3,149.93. Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.43% on the day to 6,715.30.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed.

On the coronavirus vaccine front, trial data published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Johnson & Johnson's one-shot Covid vaccine is safe and appears to generate a immune response in both young and elderly volunteers.

J&J's vaccine candidate, which only requires one dose, could simplify logistics for health-care providers. The two vaccines currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna require two doses about three to four weeks apart.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.2% to close at 3,809.84 while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4% to close at 13,128.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed just 8.22 points lower at 31,060.47.

The moves stateside came as turmoil in Washington continues, with the House on Wednesday impeaching U.S. President Donald Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.439 after rising earlier from levels below 90.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.06 per dollar, following an earlier high of 103.77 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7748, having seen an earlier low of $0.7726.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.16% to $55.97 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were below the flatline as they traded at $52.90 per barrel.

— CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.