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Asia report: Markets advance as China meets GDP expectations

By Josh White

Date: Friday 17 Jan 2020

Asia report: Markets advance as China meets GDP expectations

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia were in the green as they closed on Friday, as investors reacted to decent growth figures from China, and stocks in Japan and South Korea leapt to 15-month highs.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.45% at 24.041.26, as the yen strengthened 0.05% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 110.11.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was up 1.27%, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing added 0.03%, and technology giant SoftBank Group advanced 0.18%.

Carmakers were also on the front foot, with Mazda up 5.77%, Mitsubishi Motor 2.47% firmer, Subaru adding 4.27%, and Suzuki Motor 4.04% higher.

The broader Topix index was also positive in Tokyo, rising 0.39% to close its trading session at 1,735.44.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite eked out gains of 0.05% to 3,075.50, while the smaller, technology-focussed Shenzhen Composite slipped 0.29% to 1,806.28.

Fresh data out of China showed that the country's economy grew 6.1% in 2019, meeting GDP forecasts even though it was going through a protracted trade war with the United States.

GDP in the People's Republic was 6% firmer in the final quarter of 2019, which was unchanged from the third quarter measure, and was understood to be the slowest pace of growth in more than 27 years.

Market watchers were hopeful that the slower pace of growth could be seen off by the signing of a phase one trade deal between Washington and Beijing, which took place earlier in the week.

"The phase one trade deal with the US has partially lifted the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy, although numerous tariffs remain in place," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

"If these numbers are anything to go by, 2020 could be a far more productive year for the world's second largest economy."

South Korea's Kospi was 0.11% firmer at 2,250.57, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong advanced 0.6% to 29,056.42.

It was a mixed session for the blue-chip technology stocks in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 0.99%, while chipmaker SK Hynix lost 0.2%.

The Bank of Korea sated market expectations, by standing pat on its benchmark interest rate at 1.25%, following the two cuts it made last year.

Oil prices were higher as the region began its weekend, with Brent crude last up 0.55% at $64.98 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate ahead 0.43% at $58.77.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.32% higher at 7,064.10, with the major miners leading the gains in Sydney.

BHP Group was up 1.17%, Fortescue Metals added 3.73%, and Rio Tinto was 1.78% firmer.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 grew 0.53% to close at 11,800.21, with stocks exposed to China among the leading risers.

Specialist dairy exporter A2 Milk, which derives most of its revenue exporting milk products to China, was up 2.4%, while its supply partner Synlait Milk added 0.8%.

The down under dollars were a mixed picture against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.03% stronger at AUD 1.4494, while the Kiwi weakened 0.11% to NZD 1.5086.

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