Asia report: Most markets lower amid disappointing China data
Most markets in Asia finished lower on Thursday, as investors digested disappointing data from China.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.29%, as the yen remained relatively flat against the dollar, last moving 0.01% weaker to trade at JPY 110.50.
The latest chapter in the very long story of Toshiba-tries-to-sell-its-memory-chip-division came in the form of a memorandum of understanding with a consortium led by Bain Capital, according to the Japanese technology conglomerate.
It said it would also continue considering a separate offer from Western Digital, however, leaving investors no clearer as to what the way forward was going to be.
Toshiba stock closed down 4.53%.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was off 0.38%, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 0.07% softer at 1,993.53.
Investors in China were kept busy by a raft of disappointing data, with industrial production rising 6% year-on-year in August, missing the 6.6% Reuters-polled forecast.
Fixed asset investment in the People’s Republic was up 7.8% in the January-to-August period, below the estimated 8.2% gain, while retail sales rose 10.1% year-on-year in August, just off the 10.5% expected.
South Korea’s Kospi bucked the regional trend to finish 0.74% above the waterline at 2,377.66, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was down 0.42% at 27,777.20.
Blue chips drove the late gains in Seoul, with Hyundai Motor up 2.24% and Samsung Electronics adding 1.4%.
Suppliers to Apple were also on the front foot in Korea as market anticipation for the firm’s new smartphone models heated up, despite a fall in that company’s stock on Wall Street on Wednesday.
LG Display was ahead 2.74% and SK Hynix added 0.92%, while Samsung Electronics - which acts as both a major supplier to, and the foremost competitor of, Apple - was up 1.01%.
US tax reform was also back on the agenda during the session, after House Speaker Paul Ryan said overnight that details of the Republican tax plan would be released on 25 September.
“There is a growing feeling that something will be done amid Trump’s bipartisan approach, along with the need for Republicans to score some runs ahead of next year’s election,” noted National Australia Bank currency strategist Rodrigo Catril.
Oil prices were relatively flat during Asian trading, but picked up in early European hours, with Brent crude last up 0.65% at $55.52 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate ahead 0.65% at $49.62.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.1% at 5,738.68, led lower by the materials subindex, which lost 0.88%.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 fell 0.1% to 7,819.23, led lower by majority-state owned flag carrier Air New Zealand, which descended 2.6% during the session.
It was a mixed day for the down under dollars, with the Aussie last 0.19% stronger against the greenback at AUD 1.2493, while the Kiwi retreated 0.13% to NZD 1.3829.