Asian markets mixed, China growth data eyed


Asian markets were mixed on Monday following a soft lead from Wall Street, while better-than-expected Chinese trade data failed to lift spirits as dealers await growth figures from Beijing.
With the corporate earnings season under way there is also nervousness in global bourses, with many investors opting to stay away for now.
Sydney closed flat, dipping 3.2 points to 4,483.4 and Seoul fell 0.40 percent, or 7.67 points, to 1,925.59.
Hong Kong was virtually flat, nudging up 11.82 points to 21,148.25 while Shanghai ended 0.30 percent lower, shedding 6.23 points to 2,098.70.
But Tokyo ended 0.51 percent higher, adding 43.81 points to 8,577.93 as bargain-hunting in auto shares offset a big fall in telecom giant Softbank.
China said on Saturday that exports rose 9.9 percent year-on-year in September to a record monthly high, a welcome bounce from the recent sharp slowdown in the country’s key economic driver.
The national customs bureau also said the trade surplus, a source of friction with trading partners, widened to $27.7 billion for the month, from $26.7 billion in August.
The increase beat predictions of a 5.0 percent rise in exports, but there are still concerns over the future because of weakness in China’s main markets in the United States and Europe.
On Monday another batch of figures showed inflation at 1.9 percent last month, slightly softer than 2.0 percent in August but in line with expectations.
But the main focus is on Thursday’s release of gross domestic product data for the three months to the end of September, which will give a better idea of the state of the world’s number two economy and main regional growth driver.
“These days there seems to be a lot of attention (paid) to one bad number and not a lot of attention (paid) to one good number,” said Joe Bracken, head of macro strategies at BT Investment Management in Sydney.
But he told Dow Jones Newswires traders “are very reluctant to commit to anything unless they see a series of good numbers”.
Wall Street ended last week on a subdued note as traders fretted about the corporate outlook. The Dow ended flat, the broad-based S&P 500 lost 0.30 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.17 percent.
On currency markets the eurozone debt crisis continued to weigh on the single currency. The euro bought $1.2935 and 101.70 yen in afternoon trade, compared with $1.2958 and 101.60 yen in New York late Friday.
The dollar was at 78.61 yen against 78.39 yen in US trade.
In Hong Kong telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp. slumped 16 percent after warning of a net loss in the third quarter that would wipe out its profit for the first half of the year.
The warning also comes after a US congressional probe said the firm and another Chinese company Huawei pose a security threat to the country and should be barred from US contracts and acquisitions.
In Tokyo, mobile carrier Softbank closed 5.3 percent lower on reports it could imminently announce a deal to buy US competitor Sprint Nextel for $20 billion, which would be one of Japan’s biggest-ever overseas acquisitions.
Softbank later confirmed that agreement had been reached.
The mobile carrier’s loss on the Tokyo market was compensated by buying in auto firms, which have suffered recent big falls on strained relations between China and Japan over a territorial dispute.
Oil prices were mixed, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, shedding 30 cents to $91.56 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for November gaining one cent to $114.63 in afternoon trade.
Gold was at $1,746.80 at 0800 GMT compared with $1,767.80 late on Friday.
In other markets:
— Taipei fell 0.24 percent, or 18.14 points, to 7,418.90.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was up 0.12 percent at Tw$86.4 while leading smartphone maker HTC was 0.79 percent lower at Tw$250.0.
— Manila added 0.25 percent, or 13.50 points, to 5,383.22.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.dropped 1.0 percent to 2,690.00 pesos, while Metropolitan Bank and Trust added 1.1 percent to 91.80 pesos.
— Wellington rose 0.51 percent, or 19.71 points, to 3,916.37.
Telecom was up 2.37 percent at NZ$2.38, Fletcher Building rose 1.52 percent to NZ$7.36 and Contact Energy was down 0.37 percent at NZ$5.36.