China Imports Jump, Trade Surplus Narrows

This is a transcript of top stories presented by China's CCTV Business Channel as produced by CNBC Asia Pacific.

Hello to our viewers all over China.

You're watching “Asia Market Daily”, co-produced by CCTV Business Channel and CNBC, first in business worldwide.

I'm Saijal Patel and here are the top stories across Asia today.

A number of Asian markets are closed today for the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Trading in countries including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore are all on a break.

But for those that are open — shares were mostly higher, as some investors were inspired by positive U.S. and Japanese economic data.

In the U.S. the trade-gap narrowed in August, as U.S. exports hit a two-year high.

Also helping — better-than-expected reading on first-time jobless claims which fell by 27-thousand last week.

Here in Asia, the Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 finished 1.6-percent higher.

South Korean stocks closed higher by 1-percent.

But Australian shares erased early gains, closing lower by half a percent.

On the corporate front — there's turbulence for Virgin Blue and Air New Zealand.

The Australian competition-regulator has blocked an alliance between the two companies on flights between Australia and New Zealand.

The two airlines had said the venture would let them compete more effectively with Australian carrier Qantas and budget-carrier Jetstar.

In the greater China region, Taiwan finished up 0.7-percent, led by banks and financials.

Hong Kong shares traded to the downside.

And ahead at a planned IPO in Hong Kong — AIG's Asian insurance arm, AIA, has inked a distribution deal with China's ICBC . Under the agreement, ICBC would sell AIA's life insurance products at its branches.

Meantime over in China, the Shanghai Composite closed up 0.3-percent.

We had some crucial data suggesting that a rebound in domestic demand.

Imports were up 35.2-percent year on year, versus a forecast for a rise of 26.1-percent.

Exports, meantime, came in just slightly lower than analysts' forecasts.

The import numbers helped trim the politically-sensitive trade surplus, ahead of U.S. Congressional hearings next week.

Those hearings will determine whether to punish Beijing, for what many in Washington see as an unfairly-undervalued yuan.

Separately, China has moved-up the release of a barrage of data, including inflation, to Saturday from Monday.

Markets are closely watching what the consumer inflation number may be.

August CPI is expected to hit a new high of 3.5-percent.

The announcement's move has led to some economists predicting that a weekend rate-hike may be on the cards.

But HSBC believes the market should focus on more-than-just the data.

(SOT) Richard Yetsenga, Global Head, Emerging Market FX Strategy:

"China can move its data release to anytime they want. It just means we have time to write about the date over a couple of days rather than a couple of minutes on Monday. The market speculation seems to be the CPI number will be higher. But that was the speculation anyway. But I think the more important thing is that China hasn't done enough in the currency front to keep certain elements in the US happy."

Meantime over in Japan, stocks got some help from encouraging economic data.

CNBC's Tokyo bureau chief Kaori Enjoji has a market report. Kaori?

Japan's economy grew more than initially expected, at the pace of 0.4% in the quarter of April to June period, translating into annualized growth rate of 1.5%. The upward revision was pretty much in line with expectations but did help the equity market today. But most people i speak to says it's futures driven for equities, especially ahead of the crucial vote happening in a ruling democratic party of japan. That's happening of course on September 14th and the winner will be the new price minister. Public broadcaster NHK reporting the current prime minister Naoto Kan has a slight edge over his rival Ichiro Ozawa but the vote was too close to call.

A small specialist bank in Japan the Incubator Bank of Japan filing for bankruptcy. Not a whole lot of impact on the big banks but a lot more scrutiny on some of those with weaker capital basis like Shinsei bank which fell in trading today. And the government announcing a new stimulus package worth $11.5 billion, which they say will help boost the economy by 0.3%. Back to you Saijal.

Indian markets are closed today for the Eid ul Fitri holiday.

But CNBC-TV 18's Reema Tendulkar tells us what the markets will be looking out for next week. Reema?

Thanks for that. The three data points India will be watching out for. First will be September 14, we will be expecting the inflation data. This will be for the month of August. Also on the 16th of September the RBI will be holding a inter-meeting credit policy. The opinion is a little divided. I think the bias will be leaning towards a hike. Perhaps we will expect another rate hike. Also next week sometime, maybe after September 15th advance tax numbers for the corporates will start trickling. These are source-based numbers, but they are very important. They give a direction as to how the corporate performance has been. That's actually the first sign. So mid next week we will be expecting the advanced tax numbers. Those are the three important data points that we will be watching out for. Wishing you happy Friday and a good weekend for everyone.

And that wraps up today's business highlights.

I'm Saijal Patel from CNBC.

All Rights Reserved. A Division of NBC Universal.