Portfolio

Asia report: Markets mixed as China retail sales disappoint

By Josh White

Date: Monday 17 May 2021

Asia report: Markets mixed as China retail sales disappoint

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia closed in a mixed state on Monday, as investors pored through a slew of economic data out of China.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.92% at 27,824.83, as the yen strengthened 0.14% against the dollar, last trading at JPY 109.20.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was down 1.66%, fashion firm Fast Retailing lost 0.97%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 1.14% lower.

The broader Topix index closed 0.24% weaker at the end of trading in Tokyo, settling at 1,878.86.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.78% at 3,517.62, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite advanced 1.15% to 2,320.33.

A veritable buffet of data was offered up by Beijing during the session, with the country's industrial output growing 9.8% year-on-year in April, in line with expectations set by a Reuters poll.

Retail sales, meanwhile, surged 17.7% over the prior year period in April, according to the official data, although that was still well short of the 24.9% improvement expected by analysts polled by Reuters.

"The rollercoaster drama of last week gave way to a fairly benign start to trading this Monday morning," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

"Contributing to the quiet open was the overnight figures out of China - numbers that are indicative of a slowing recovery in the country."

Campbell noted that fixed asset investment fell to 19.9% from 25.6% month-on-month, while industrial production dropped to 9.8% from 14.1%.

"Most upsetting for Western investors, retail sales almost halved, from 34.2% to 17.7%, far worse than the 25.0% forecast."

South Korea's Kospi was down 0.6% at 3,134.52, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong rose 0.59% to 28,194.09.

The blue-chip technology stocks were in the red in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 0.62% and SK Hynix falling 0.84%.

Oil prices were higher at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last up 0.16% at $68.82 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate ahead 0.2% at $65.50.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.13% to 7,023.60, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was 0.34% firmer at 12,410.47.

The down under dollars were both weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.23% at AUD 1.2897 and the Kiwi retreating 0.39% to NZD 1.3869.

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