Asian Shares End Mostly Lower After Chinese Data

Asian stocks closed mostly lower on Monday as a raft of Chinese data proved to be a mixed bag and investors awaited Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s semi-annual congressional testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday for directional cues. The Japanese market was closed in observance of Marine Day.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index shed 17.27 points or 0.6 percent to close at 2,813.92 after official data showed Chinese GDP growth slowed to 6.7 percent in the second quarter, its slowest pace since 2016. That matched forecasts but was a tad lower than 6.8 percent in the first quarter.

Retail sales numbers for June exceeded expectations and fixed asset investment grew in line with expectations, while industrial output growth came in shy of forecasts.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched up 14.22 points or 0.1 percent to 28,539.66. Telecommunications equipment maker ZTE soared 10 percent after the Trump administration lifted a ban on the company from purchasing technology from U.S. corporations.

Australian shares fell modestly as investors awaited quarterly production results from mining and energy companies and weak weekend property auction results weighed on the banking sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 26.90 points or 0.4 percent to 6,241.50, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 25.20 points or 0.4 percent at 6,326.70.

Banks Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac fell between 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent, and mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto declined 0.8 percent and half a percent, respectively. Whitehaven Coal lost 2.1 percent after the coal miner flagged a rise in earnings.

Seoul stocks closed lower on lingering trade war fears and concerns over slowing Chinese growth. The benchmark Kospi eased 8.91 points or 0.4 percent to 2,301.99 after the previous session’s rally.

Financials and tech stocks were among the biggest decliners, with LG Electronics, Woori Bank and KB Financial ending down 2-3 percent. Automakers bucked the weak trend, with Hyundai Motor climbing 2.9 percent and Kia Motors rising 1.6 percent.

New Zealand shares fell, dragged down by healthcare stocks. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 43.88 points or 0.5 percent to 8,980.31.

Activity in New Zealand’s services sector continued to expand in June, albeit at a much slower rate, the latest survey from BusinessNZ revealed with a Performance of Services Index score of 52.8, down from the downwardly revised 57.1 in May.

Malaysia’s KLSE Composite was marginally lower. The country’s jobless rate came in at 3.3 percent in May, the same rate as in April.

Indian shares were little changed, Singapore’s Straits Times index was declining 0.7 percent and the Taiwan Weighted shed 0.4 percent while Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite index was down as much as 1.5 percent.

U.S. stocks finished slightly higher on Friday as investors digested mixed earnings results from financial giants JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

While the Fed’s semi-annual monetary policy to Congress offered few surprises, a gauge of consumer sentiment dipped in July due to tariff concerns.

The Dow rose 0.4 percent, the S&P 500 inched up 0.1 percent to reach its best closing level in five months, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained marginally to hit a fresh record high.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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