Australian Economy

China economic data, Covid, inflation

SINGAPORE — Shares in the Asia-Pacific gave up early gains on Monday, after China reported disappointing economic numbers as a result of Covid restrictions.

Tech stocks in Hong Kong surged before paring some gains following bad news from China on the economic front. The Hang Seng Tech index was up more than 2% at one point, before dropping by about 0.28%. Meituan‘s shares in Hong Kong dropped 3.58%, while Tencent fell 1.13%.

The broader Hang Seng index fell 0.37% after an early positive start.

Mainland Chinese stocks were lower, with the Shanghai Composite down 0.51% and the Shenzhen Component fell 0.53%.

China’s economic data for April missed expectations, hurt by strict Covid limits in parts of the country.

Retail sales for April dropped 11.1% compared to a year ago, more than the 6.1% fall that analysts expected, according to a Reuters poll. Industrial production fell 2.9% from the same period in 2021. It was expected to inch up 0.4%.

China’s 31 largest cities saw unemployment rates rise to a new high of 6.7% in April, according to data going back at least to 2018.

Shanghai authorities said on Sunday that some businesses will begin to resume in-store operations, Reuters reported.

“While Shanghai provided some positivity for markets, it is not clear when China will pivot to living with Covid,” Tapas Strickland, director of economics at National Australia Bank, said in a note.

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Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.47%, while the Topix struggled for direction and was last up 0.1%.

The Kospi in South Korea fell 0.26% after rising earlier in the session, and the Kosdaq was 0.31% higher.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.2%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was near flat.

Stock indexes in Asia and around the world were volatile last week over inflation concerns. Tech stocks and cryptocurrencies were hit hard, though bitcoin has since pared some losses. U.S. stocks rebounded on Friday, but still posted losses for the week.

Markets in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are closed for a holiday on Monday.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 104.603.

The Japanese yen traded at 128.91 per dollar, stronger than the 130 levels seen last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.6881.

Oil futures gave up earlier gains to fall in Asia trade. U.S. crude futures slipped 1.45% to $108.89 per barrel, while international benchmark Brent crude futures were down 1.57% at $109.80 per barrel.

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