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Asia report: Markets mixed after better-than-expected Japan export data

By Josh White

Date: Wednesday 16 Sep 2020

Asia report: Markets mixed after better-than-expected Japan export data

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished in a mixed state on Wednesday, as investors digested data out of Japan, showing the country's exports declining less than anticipated in August.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 managed gains of 0.09% to 23,475.53, as the yen strengthened 0.26% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.17.

Technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was ahead 4.64%, while among the benchmark's other major components, automation specialist Fanuc was down 1.38% and fashion firm Fast Retailing slipped 0.61%.

The broader Topix index was 0.21% firmer by the end of trading in Tokyo, at 1,644.35.

Provisional data from the Ministry of Finance during the session showed Japan's exports falling 14.8% on a year-on-year basis in August.

That was still better than the 16.1% decline expected by economists polled by Reuters.

"Base effects were favourable for both exports and imports, accounting for part of the moderation in their respective year-on-year declines," said Pantheon Macroeconomics senior Asia economist Migues Chanco.

"But the former's improvement last month was real; outbound shipments rose by 6.2% month-on-month in August, on our adjustment, building on the already punchy 5.4% increase in the previous month."

Chanco said August's increase was "more robust" than in July in a number of ways, as exports rose to all major markets.

"Shipments to the US eked out a further 2% rise, despite the high bar set by the staggering 45% bounce in July, while those to Asia registered another 3% gain.

"Meanwhile, exports to the EU rebounded by 5%, more than recovering their 1% July slip."

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.36% to 3,283.92, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite slipped 0.91% to 2,185.22.

South Korea's Kospi was off 0.31% at 2,435.92, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was off 0.03% at 24,725.63.

The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics finishing flat, and chipmaker SK Hynix losing 0.49%.

Investors were turning their attention across the Pacific by the end of the session, where the Federal Reserve is due to finish its meeting later in the global day.

The Federal Open Market Committee is set to release its quarterly update on how it views the trajectory of GDP, inflation and unemployment stateside.

"There are several things to look out for from the Federal Reserve today, not least some firming up of the details around the new average inflation targeting regime," said Markets.com chief market analyst Neil Wilson.

"After Jackson Hole, there were some unanswered questions for the FOMC."

Wilson said there was not much in the way of detail of how the Fed planned to deliver the new average inflation targeting framework, for example.

"And Powell's speech lacked any real specifics on the nature of forward guidance that the FOMC is clearly leaning towards.

"This will be an important lever of the average inflation targeting approach, so it needs to be clarified at this meeting."

Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last up 2.32% at $41.47 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 2.61% to $39.28.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 1.04% to 5,956.10, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was ahead 0.37% at 11,814.71.

Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.37% at AUD 1.3645, and the Kiwi advancing 0.44% to NZD 1.4830.

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