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Asian Stock Markets Mixed on Profit-Taking, Trade Outlook

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Last updated: 01/14/2020 05:34:22

05:34 AM EST, 01/14/2020 (MT Newswires) -- Asian stock were mixed Tuesday as traders booked profits after recent rallies triggered by improving Sino-US trade relations. Hong Kong and Shanghai fell back, but Tokyo rose and other regional exchanges generally finished higher. The US Treasury Department on Monday dropped the designation of mainland China as a currency manipulator, while the signing of the "phase 1" Sino-US trade deal is slated for Wednesday.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 opened higher after a three-day weekend and held its ground, to finish up 0.73% as traders mulled the Sino-US trade outlook and a softer yen, the latter regarded as a positive in export-oriented Japan. The "safe-haven" yen traded at more than 110 to the US dollar for the first time in eight months, indicating a "risk-on" mood in the market, said analysts.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 174.60 to 24,025.17, as gaining issues outnumbered losers 126 to 93.

Leading the upside were FamilyMart (FYRTY, 8028:Tokyo), up 4.3%, followed by steelmaker JFE Holdings (JFEEF, 5411:Tokyo), up 4.1%, and then heavy-equipment maker IHI (IHICY, 7013;Tokyo), up 3.9%.

On the downside were Taiheiyo Cement (THYCF, 5233:Tokyo), off 4.0%, and then Nissan Motors (NSANY, 7201:Tokyo), off 3.0%.

In economic news, bank lending in Japan rose 1.8% in December year-over-year, compared with a 2.1% increase in November, reported the Bank of Japan. Also, Japan's current-account trade balance increased 75% to $13.0 billion in November year-over-year, with softer oil prices cited for the widening surplus. However, Japan goods exports in November fell 10.2% year-over-year, on shrinking shipments of vehicles and construction machinery to the US.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index opened higher after overnight Wall Street gains, but lost ground in the afternoon session to finish off 0.24%, as traders booked profits following recent rallies tied to the improving Sino-US trade outlook, said analysts.

The Hang Seng fell 69.80 to 28,885.14, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 25 to 24.

Leading the upside on a down day were Macau gaming-houses Sands China (1928:HK), up 3.1%, and then Sands China (27:HK), up 2.3%. Also gaining was knitwear-maker Shenzhou International (2313:HK), up 1.8%.

On the downside were Apple (AAPL)-supplier AAC Technologies (2018:HK), off 4.4%, and then smartphone-components maker Sunny Optical Technology (2382:HK), off 2.3%.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite fell 0.28% to 3,106.82.

In economic news, China's dollar-denominated exports rose a better-than-expected 7.6% year-over-year in December, Reuters reported, citing official data. December Imports were up 16.3% year-over-year.

On the other exchanges, the S. Korean Kospi rose 0.43%; the Taiwan TWSE inclined 0.55%; the Australian ASX 200 rose 0.85%; the Singapore Straits Times Index rose 0.60%, and the Thai Set inclined 0.05%. In late trading in Mumbai, the Sensex was up 0.22%.

The MSCI Asia Apex 50, a broad measure of Asian stock markets excluding Japan, finished flat.

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