Stocks in Asia Pacific traded mixed on Friday, as Chinese data showed food inflation soared in July while Japan’s economy grew at a greater pace than expected.
Mainland Chinese stocks closed lower, retracing earlier gains. The Shanghai composite slipped 0.71% to about 2,774.75 and the Shenzhen component declined 1.39% to 8,795.18. The Shenzhen composite fell 1.274% to approximately 1,479.86. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.4%, as of its final hour of trading.
In other parts of the region, markets advanced. Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.44% to close at 20,684.82 while the Topix index rose 0.35% to 1,503.84.
South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.89% to close at 1,937.75 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.25% to finish at 6,584.40.
Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index added 0.18%.
Markets in Singapore and Taiwan were closed on Friday.
Japan GDP beats expectations
Japan’s economy saw its third straight quarterly expansion in the three months that ended in June, growing at an annualized rate of 1.8% in the period, according to government data on Friday. That was much better than a median forecast for 0.4% growth.
Compared against the previous quarter, gross domestic product gained 0.4%, also beating expectations.
Capital expenditure also rose 1.5% against the previous quarter, while private consumption grew 0.6%.
“The numbers were quite above consensus and I think, in particular, the large contribution from the domestic demand part of the economy was particularly robust,” Kathy Matsui, vice chair and chief Japan strategist at Goldman Sachs Japan, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” shortly after the data release.
“We had at Goldman, an above consensus view but … it came in even above that estimate and I think that kind of underscores the reality, at least from our point of view, that both consumption and private (capital expenditure) remain kind of the engines of Japan’s economy at least for the foreseeable future.” Matsui said.
China’s consumer price index in July rose 2.8% on-year — its fastest year-on-year pace since February 2018, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. In particular, food prices soared in July to 9.1% from a year ago, amid surging prices of pork as the country battles African swine fever.
The producer price index for that period fell more than expected. It declined 0.3% year-on-year in July, the largest decline in annual terms since August 2016, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China fixed its midpoint for the yuan at 7.0136 against the dollar on Friday — the second time this week the benchmark rate was set weaker than 7. The onshore yuan last traded at 7.0478 against the greenback, and the offshore yuan changed hands at 7.0734 per dollar.
The Chinese currency came into sharper focus this week after it weakened past the 7-yuan-per-dollar mark on Monday for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis and sent global markets into a frenzy.
Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.566 after touching lows below 97.5 yesterday.
The Japanese yen traded at 105.92 against the dollar after seeing an earlier high of 105.71.
The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6810 after touching an earlier low of $0.6776, as Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe said Friday it was “reasonable to expect an extended period of low interest rates.” Lowe’s comments came on the back of a larger than expected rate cut by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand on Tuesday.
Oil prices were largely unchanged in the afternoon of Asian trading hours. The international benchmark Brent crude futureswas just below the flatline at $57.37 per barrel while U.S. crude futures were flat at $52.54 per barrel.