Hong Kong: Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Wednesday despite gains on Wall Street and positive US data but Tokyo remained buoyant thanks to bullishness on Tokyo Electric Power.
Optimism from figures suggesting the Chinese economy is not heading for a hard landing was tempered by Beijing’s decision to almost immediately hike the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve, surprising traders.
Hong Kong finished 0.68% off, dipping 152.23 points to 22,343.77 and Shanghai fell 0.90%, or 24.61 points, to 2,705.43. Sydney closed 0.40%, or 18.2 points, lower at 4,566.8.
But Tokyo ended 0.28% higher, adding 26.53 points to 9,574.32 and Seoul added 0.47%, or 9.70 points, to 2,086.53.
“Asian markets outperformed on Tuesday and Wall Street rose as expected,” said MF Global senior trader Anthony Anderson in Australia.
“China’s industrial production data were pretty good, but US retail sales weren’t crash hot, so there’s no new positive news.”
Anderson said China’s inflation could still be a restraining factor in the future.
The US on Tuesday released better-than-expected data on retail sales and wholesale inflation, which showed that the US economic recovery was weak, but still on track, analysts said.
US retail sales fell 0.2% from April to May, a less steep drop than the consensus estimate of 0.7%.
Meanwhile wholesale inflation came in at 0.2%, outpacing analysts’ estimates of 0.1%.
The data sent Wall Street higher. The Dow, which has suffered heavy losses over the past six weeks, jumped 1.03%, while the S&P 500 rose 1.26% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq surged 1.48%.
China earlier Tuesday said its inflation rate was 5.5% in May, the highest in three years but in line with expectations, bringing relief to dealers who feared it would be higher. It also indicated that the world’s number two economy was in rude health and not slowing too harshly.
However, the Chinese central bank’s decision later Tuesday to raise the amount of money lenders must keep in reserve -- which came earlier than expected -- weighed on sentiment.
The Nikkei got a boost as TEPCO, which operates the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant battered by the 11 March quake-tsunami, ended 32.12% higher.
Dealers are rushing back to TEPCO after the government put forward a bill to support the utility in making compensation payments to the thousands of people affected by the worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
TEPCO shares recently hit all-time lows amid a lack of clarity over the level of government support for it and worries it would be delisted from the stock exchange.
However, “shares are reacting bullishly as fears of delisting are dissipating”, Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
The euro eased against the dollar in early European trade amid a eurozone row over a second bailout for debt-laden Greece, analysts said.
The single European unit dipped to $1.4355 from $1.4440 late Tuesday in New York where the single European currency staged a modest rise. The euro fell to ¥115.83 in Tokyo from 116.24.
The dollar fetched ¥80.67, up from ¥80.45 in New York.
On oil markets, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for July delivery, lost 33 cents to $99.04 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for delivery in July rose 30 cents to $120.46 on its last trading day.
Gold closed at $1,522.00-$1,523.00 an ounce in Hong Kong, up from Tuesday’s close of $1,519.00-$1,520.00.