Asia shares mostly up, Shanghai hit by more weak China data

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HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly rose on Wednesday, brushing off another sell-off on Wall Street, but Shanghai and Hong Kong retreated after a further batch of weak data indicated ongoing weakness in the Chinese economy.

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The euro edged higher despite fears about drawn-out bailout reform talks between Greece and its creditors, with the country warning it will soon run out of cash.

Tokyo rose 0.71 percent, or 139.88 points, to 19,764.72, Sydney jumped 0.71 percent, or 40.4 points, to 5,715.1 and Seoul tacked on 0.83 percent, or 17.39 points, to 2,114.16.

However, Shanghai ended 0.58 percent lower, giving up 25.46 points to 4,375.76 while Hong Kong fell 0.58 percent, or 157.90 points to 27,249.28.

Chinese markets turned lower in the afternoon after the National Bureau of Statistics announced figures for retail sales, industrial output and fixed asset investment, which all missed expectations.

The figures are the latest to show ongoing weakness in the world’s number two economy—following soft trade and inflation data last week—and come days after the central bank at the weekend cut interest rates again for the third time since November.

ANZ economists said the news also suggested economic growth may come in below the government’s target of 7.0 percent this year.

“Thus, more growth stabilization policies could be expected to roll out,” they wrote in a note.

Shanghai’s stock market has almost doubled in the past year on hopes for a slew of easing measures to kick-start growth, while Hong Kong has also taken off over the past six weeks as mainland investors pour south.

Euro ticks higher
Across the rest of Asia, markets advanced, despite a second successive sell-off Tuesday on Wall Street as US investors were spooked by rising US Treasury yields, which raised questions about confidence in the economy.

The pullback from US sovereign debt also comes after some weak indicators, including anaemic wage growth, a tepid manufacturing sector and with economic growth at a weak 0.2 percent annual rate.

The Dow sank 0.21 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.30 percent and the Nasdaq fell 0.35 percent.

On currency markets the dollar bought 119.82 yen against 119.90 yen in New York late Tuesday.

The euro maintained its strength against the dollar and yen as Greece’s leaders struggle to agree an overhaul of Athens’ bailout conditions with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The single currency was at $1.1246 and 134.80 yen against $1.1213 and 134.44 yen.

There was relief at the start of the week when it emerged Athens had managed to pay 750 million euros due to the IMF, helping it avoid a default, which could have led to its ejection from the eurozone.

However, it is still negotiating with creditors to change its bailout terms and unlock billions more in much-needed cash to service other debts while Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said his country could run out of cash within two weeks if no deal is reached.

Oil prices were higher. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for June delivery gained 58 cents to $61.33 while Brent crude for June rose 44 cents to $67.30 in afternoon trade.

AFP

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