Asian markets lackluster, profit-taking hits HK

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HONG KONG: Hong Kong retreated on profit-taking Tuesday after a near-15 percent rise over eight days, while Tokyo was hurt by a stronger yen as Asian investors await the release of key data later in the week.

The tepid performance among most Asian markets follows losses on Wall Street as US investors prepare for the corporate earnings season to get under way.

Hong Kong ended down 1.62 percent, or 454.85 points, at 27,561.49 but Shanghai closed up 0.34 percent, or 13.85 points, at 4,135.57.

Tokyo was flat, edging up 3.22 points to close at 19,908.68, and Sydney fell 0.23 percent, or 13.7 points, to close at 5,946.6.


But Seoul rose 0.61 percent, or 12.80 points, to 2,111.72.

With few catalysts to spur business, traders took the opportunity to cash in before key events this week, including US retail sales data, Chinese growth figures and a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting.

“Clearly, investors are waiting for the next set of clues of how the global economy is evolving,” said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research in Sydney at Perpetual Ltd.

“The data absence overnight meant they decided to take profits even though the US reporting season is set to move into a higher gear in the next two days,” he told Bloomberg News.

On Wall Street Monday the Dow eased 0.45 percent, the S&P 500 fell 0.46 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 0.15 percent.

Hong Kong took a step back for the first time after an eight-session run that was fuelled by mainland Chinese investors seeking out relatively cheap equities after a year-long surge in Shanghai.

Retail traders north of the border have been on an investment binge in hopes the government will unveil economy-boosting measures following a series of weak data over recent months.

Close attention will be paid to Wednesday’s first-quarter growth data out of Beijing, with another weak figure likely to spur more equity purchases.

A survey of economists by AFP has forecast growth of 6.9 percent in January-March, which would be the weakest quarterly result since the start of 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.

AFP

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