Asia shares slip as China data fails to surprise

Asia shares slip as China data fails to surprise

Hong Kong: Asian shares fell on Thursday, and the Australian dollar briefly retreated, amid disappointment that Chinese growth data, though robust, offered few surprises.

News that China’s economy surged 8.9% in the third quarter, and retail sales and other indicators were robust in September, reinforced optimism that Asia is on a sustainable recovery path. But the outcome was widely expected, giving investors little to trade on.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 1% while shares in Shanghai dipped 0.3%.

“The Chinese economy has taken off, but it is flying on one engine, China’s recovery has been impressive but it has been heavily reliant on government-directed investment funded by aggressive bank lending," said Brian Jackson, a strategist at Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong.

“To keep the economy moving at a fast pace we need to see a more broad-based recovery."

The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks traded outside Japan fell 1% and the Thomson Reuters index of regional shares was down 0.6%.

The dollar edged up 0.3% to 75.169, having earlier hit a fresh 14-month low of 74.94, as expectations strong China data would encourage buying of higher-yielding assets like the Australian and New Zealand currencies failed to materialise.

The Aussie dollar briefly slipped on disappointment the China data was not more upbeat, but it quickly recovered.

There was disappointment in the Chinese yuan offshore non-deliverable forwards market too. Yuan eased in NDFs on the economic data, after facing upward pressure this week on expectations a rebounding Chinese economy would encourage Beijing to allow currency appreciation.

Japan’s Nikkei index fell 1.2% with exporters losing ground. Sentiment was not helped by data showing Japanese exports slumped 30% in September, with a rising yen aggravating declining demand.

“What’s needed now is for consumption to recover in the United States, which is the major market for high value-added Japanese goods. In that sense, it may take time for exports to stage a full-fledged expansion," said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute in Tokyo.

Equity markets across the region were cautious after a late sell-off in financial shares pushed the Dow Jones down nearly 1% on Wednesday, overshadowing upbeat earnings from Morgan Stanley and Yahoo Inc.

In Asia, newspaper reports said Japanese car maker Honda Motor Co and tech giant Toshiba were both on course to beat their own projections and post first-half operating profits, but their shares were flat amid the market slide.

Oil held above $81 a barrel after jumping to a one-year high at $81.37 on Wednesday on news of a sharp drawdown in US gasoline stocks.

South Korea treasuries fell, tracking US Treasuries, after the Bank of England raised anxiety over an exit strategy and on uncertainty over whether Citigroup will include Korean bonds in its World Government Bond Index. December treasury bond futures fell 12 ticks to 108.36.