Asia Markets: Asian markets mixed after decades-worst GDP growth by China

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Asian markets were mixed in early trading Friday, as new data showed worse-than-expected economic growth in China.

China’s economy expanded at a 6% rate year-over-year, official data showed, less than the median 6.1% forecast by economists polled by the Wall Street Journal, and the worst pace of growth since the first quarter of 1992. It was the second straight month of weaker year-on-year data. China expects annual GDP growth of 6% to 6.5% this year, down from last year’s 6.6% growth.

Still, investors appeared relieved the numbers weren’t worse, considering the ongoing tariff war with the U.S. and signs of a global slowdown.

“While the GDP is testing the lower bound of the official annual 6-6.5% target, today’s data suggests there is a very limited risk of breaching the lower bounds of that target this year,” Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific market strategist for AxiTrader, wrote in a note. “While risk asset is not flashing all green, markets can breathe a sigh of relief.”

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.56%   rose 0.5% as a core inflation reading fell to 0.3% in September, the lowest level since April 2017, but in line with analysts’ expectations. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.11%   was about flat after giving up early gains, while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.12%   fell 0.1% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.16%   rose 0.2%. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, +0.12%   edged up 0.1%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -0.17%  , Singapore STI, -0.28%  , Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.01%   and Malaysia FBMKLCI, -0.08%   were little changed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.61%   slipped 0.4%.

Among individual stocks, robotics maker Fanuc 6954, +2.96%   gained in Tokyo trading, along with Rakuten 4755, +2.23%   and Fast Retailing 9983, +2.09%  . In Hong Kong, Sunny Optical 2382, +1.62%   and AIA 1299, +0.66%   gained, while property developers such as Wharf Real Estate 1997, -1.78%   retreated after big gains Thursday. Kia Motors 000270, +0.98%   gained in South Korea, while Westpac WBC, -1.20%   and Commonwealth Bank CBA, -1.14%   slipped in Australia.