Hong Kong: Asian markets were mixed on Thursday, with late buying offsetting earlier falls that had been fuelled by losses on Wall Street as US data showed the economy shrank in the final three months of 2012.
The surprise numbers from Washington, the first contraction since mid-2009, saw the dollar weaken further after suffering a sell-off in New York trade.
Tokyo rose 0.22%, or 24.71 points, to 11,138.66 and Shanghai added 0.12%, or 2.95 points, to 2,385.42. But Seoul slipped 0.13%, or 2.49 points, to 1,961.94 and Sydney lost 0.37%, or 17.9 points, to 4,878.8.
Hong Kong shed 0.39%, or 92.53 points, to 23,729.53.
Most of the region’s indexes have enjoyed a strong month as dealers grow more confident about the global outlook, with Sydney enjoying its best January since 1994.
Investors were surprised by the US Commerce Department figures showing the world’s biggest economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.1% in the October-December quarter. Forecasts had been for a 1.0% rise.
However, the Federal Reserve, wrapping up a two-day policy meeting, dismissed the contraction as “transitory”, noting the economy had “paused” in recent months.
The Fed stayed the course on its ultra-loose monetary policy as expected, saying growth should be moderate moving ahead.
On Wall Street the Dow, which ended Tuesday just short of its all-time high, fell 0.32%, while the S&P 500 shed 0.39% and the Nasdaq slipped 0.35%.
SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires: “The (US) numbers will likely be treated as a bit of a one-off, as they masked stronger consumer and business spending and progress in the housing recovery.”
On currency markets the greenback bought 91.03 yen in European trade, from 91.05 yen late Wednesday in New York. The US unit is well down from the 91.40 seen earlier Wednesday in Asia.
The euro was at 123.50 yen and $1.3565 against 123.54 yen and $1.3564.
In Japan the government released figures showing factory production rose 2.5% in December month-on-month.
Despite coming up short of expectations of a 4.0% rise, the data indicated “industrial production shows signs of having bottomed out” the economy ministry said.
Oil prices fell, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, down 12 cents to $97.82 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for March delivery lost 10 cents to $114.80 in the afternoon.
Gold was at $1,674.65 at 1110 GMT compared with $1,666.55 late Wednesday.
In other markets:
—Taipei rose 0.22%, or 17.04 points, to 7,850.02.
Leading smartphone maker HTC was 0.52% higher at Tw$291.5 while Hon Hai Precision shed 0.59% to end at Tw$84.4.
—Manila closed 0.45% lower, shedding 28.49 points to 6,242.74.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. dropped 2.0% to 2,786 pesos and Metro Pacific Investment was down 0.38% at 5.20 pesos.
—Wellington rose 0.12%, or 5.10 points, to 4,252.65.
NZ Oil & Gas gained 1.7% to NZ$0.91, Fletcher Building added 1.4% to NZ$9.52 and Air New Zealand was up 0.40% at NZ$1.25 while Telecom climbed 1.25% to NZ$2.43.
—Singapore closed down 0.10%, or 3.24 points, to 3,282.66.
United Overseas Bank dropped 0.16% to Sg$18.85. Singapore Airlines slipped 0.09% to Sg$10.99 after announcing Wednesday it had asked 76 foreign pilots to leave before their contracts expire in a cost-cutting exercise.
—Kuala Lumpur shares ended little changed at 1,627.55.
Axiata rose 0.2% to 6.30 ringgit while DiGi.com lost 0.2% to 4.92 and YTL Corp shed 2.4% to 1.65 ringgit.
—Bangkok lost 1.11% or 16.62 points to close at 1,474.20.
Coal producer Banpu lost 0.77% to 388.00 baht while PTT fell 2.01% to 341.00.
—Mumbai India’s Sensex index slid 0.55%, or 110.02 points, to 19,894.98 on profit-taking in index heavyweights.
Consumer goods firm Colgate Palmolive (India) Ltd slid 2.43% to Rs.1,350.8 while private carrier Jet Airways (India) Ltd rose 4.34% to Rs.622.1.
—Jakarta ended up 0.73 points, or 0.02%, at 4,453.70.
Cigarette producer Gudang Garam rose 0.29% to 51,850 rupiah, food manufacturer Cahaya Kalbar gained 4.20% to 1,490 rupiah, while car maker Astra International fell 3.29% to 7,350 rupiah. AFP