Asian shares slip after weak China, Japan data
HONG KONG: Asian markets tumbled on Monday following a surprisingly
poor batch of economic data out of China, while revised Japanese figures
showed 2013 growth was slower than expected.
The losses came after healthy gains on most bourses last week and
despite jobs growth in the United States while investors are keeping an
eye on events in Ukraine as leaders try to find a peaceful resolution to
Tokyo fell 1.00 percent by the break, Sydney eased 0.77 percent and
Seoul was 0.86 percent lower, while Hong Kong sank 1.38 percent and
Shanghai lost 1.13 percent.
Beijing said Saturday it had seen an unexpected trade deficit of
$22.98 billion in February.
The figure compared with a surplus of $14.8 billion in the same month
last year, and a median forecast of an $11.9 billion surplus. Exports
fell 18.1 percent and imports jumped 10.1 percent.
Those figures were followed the next day by news that inflation eased
to 2.0 percent in February, down from 2.5 percent in January, which led
to talk of possible deflation, which could delay much-needed investment
and consumer spending.
While authorities blame the country's holiday season for the weak
results, they add to growing worries about the Chinese economy, with the
latest surveys on the key manufacturing sector showing weakness.
In Japan the government said Monday that gross domestic product
growth was 0.2 percent in the quarter to December and 1.5 percent
through 2013, slower than first thought.
Preliminary figures last month showed GDP expanded 0.3 percent in
October-December period and 1.6 percent over the year. While the data
still marked Japan's best annual performance in three years, it will put
the focus on the Central Bank with speculation that it will announce a
fresh batch of monetary easing measures. In currency trade the yen rose
after seeing a sell-off for most of last week. In early trade the dollar
fell to 103.02 yen from 103.24 yen in New York Friday.
The euro fetched $1.3887 and 143.08 yen, against $1.3874 and 143.31
The United States provided a broadly positive lead after official
figures showed 175,000 jobs were created in February, rebounding from
two disappointing winter-battered months, suggesting economic growth is
still on track.
On Wall Street the S and P 500 edged up 0.05 percent to its third
record in four days and the Dow gained 0.19 percent but the Nasdaq fell