Seoul: Asian stock markets were mixed on Monday after a decline on Wall Street and as investors hunkered down ahead of a stream of figures that could confirm the US economy is recovering at a slower pace.
Trading was subdued with financial markets in Japan closed for a national holiday. Oil hovered above $78 a barrel while the dollar rose against the yen and fell versus the euro.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 140.15 points, or 0.6%, at 22,588.44 while South Korea’s Kospi was off 2.72, or 0.2%, at 1,617.88.
Elsewhere, Australia’s index gained 0.6% and China’s Shanghai benchmark rose 0.1%. Markets were lower in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines.
Investors are cautious because of an upcoming slew of figures on the world’s largest economy including revised GDP growth for the third quarter. Many analysts expect the initial estimate of a 3.5% annual growth rate to be lowered.
Also due this week are reports on home sales, unemployment, consumer confidence and demand for big-ticket manufactured goods.
“Everybody is watching to see if the US consumer will go out and spend,” said Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.
There’s also a focus on the US dollar, he said, after it regained strength amid safe haven buying sparked by Dell’s gloomy business outlook and European Central Bank plans to start reining in stimulus programs.
Investors tend to seek refuge in the US currency and gold when they perceive other assets such as emerging market stocks and commodities have become too risky.
Stocks, particularly in Asia, have risen dramatically from their lows in March but there are nagging doubts the global economic recovery isn’t keeping up with the markets.
On Friday in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 14.28, or 0.1%, to 10,318.16, skidding for the third straight session. For the week, the Dow fell 119 points, or 1.1%.
The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3.52, or 0.3%, to 1,091.38, while the Nasdaq composite index, dominated by tech stocks like Dell Inc., fell 10.78, or 0.5%, to 2,146.04.
Investors sold US stocks after Dell said net income dropped 54% in the third quarter and warned it faced an uneven recovery.