Asian Shares Mixed Amid Concerns Over Growth

Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Monday as global growth worries offset hopes for policy support from China.

U.S. job growth almost halted in February and new bank loans in China fell sharply last month, adding to concerns over cooling global growth.

Investors also awaited a crucial vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s revised Brexit deal on Tuesday for directional cues.

Chinese stocks rebounded from heavy losses in the previous session after central bank governor Yi Gang said Beijing would not use the yuan exchange rate as a tool to boost exports or ease trade frictions.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rallied 57.13 points or 1.92 percent to 3,026.99, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 274.88 points or 1 percent to finish at 28,503.30.

Japanese shares bounced back from four days of losses as investors looked ahead to the Bank of Japan policy meeting later this week.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose 99.53 points or 0.5 percent to 21,125.09, while the broader Topix ended up by 0.6 percent at 1,581.44.

Automakers Honda Motor, Toyota, Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan Motor gained between 0.7 percent 1.1 percent as the dollar remained strong above the 111.00 yen threshold.

Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors will create a new decision-making body to discuss business collaboration across the three-way alliance, replacing a setup that concentrated power in former chief Carlos Ghosn, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Hitachi Chemical soared 20 percent after Kyodo news reported that parent company Hitachi was considering a sale of its stake at a hefty premium of more than 40 per cent.

Meanwhile, Australian markets fell, dragged down by energy stocks after crude oil prices fell 1 percent on Friday on weak data from China and the U.S. The European Central Bank’s surprising dovish stance also fueled growth concerns.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 23.60 points or 0.4 percent to 6,180.20, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 23.80 points or 0.4 percent at 6,263.30.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Santos lost around 2 percent. The big four banks ended largely unchanged after CEOs from several major banks faced questioning in parliament.

Weak copper prices weighed on the mining sector, with heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto losing 1 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining rallied 3.8 percent after it agreed to buy a copper and gold mine in Canada for $806.5 million. Rivals Northern Star and Evolution Mining jumped over 4 percent after a surge in gold prices.

Appen entered a trading halt. The artificial intelligence firm is launching a A$300 million capital raising to fund the acquisition of U.S.-based machine learning software firm Figure Eight.

Seoul stocks fluctuated before ending largely unchanged amid growth worries. The benchmark Kospi edged up by 0.66 point to 2,138.10, snapping a six-session losing streak. Cosmetics maker AmorePacific slumped 4.6 percent and oil refiner S-Oil gave up 4 percent.

New Zealand shares ended lower on growth worries after central bank data showed new bank loans in China fell sharply in February from a record the previous month.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 49.42 points or 0.5 percent to 9,390.85. Fletcher Building shares tumbled 3.3 percent as investors weighed ongoing headwinds in the real estate and construction sectors.

U.S. stocks fell for the fifth straight day on Friday as disappointing export data from China as well as weak U.S. jobs figures added to investor concerns over cooling global growth.

The world’s largest economy added just 20,000 jobs in February, compared with expectations of non-farm payrolls rising by 180,000.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 both slipped by 0.2 percent.

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