Asia Stocks Mixed as China Shares Slip, Tokyo Ends Losing Streak

  • Topix gains first time in seven sessions on weakening yen
  • Shanghai equities retreat on disappointing economic data

Asian stocks were mixed as the region’s biggest markets diverged, with Chinese shares slumping on disappointing trade data while Japan equities climbed for the first time in seven sessions.

About five shares advanced for every four that fell on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, which dropped 0.2 percent to 126.94 as of 4:13 p.m. in Hong Kong. The Shanghai Composite Index sank 2.8 percent, taking its two-day loss to 5.5 percent, the most since Feb. 25. China’s exports fell 1.8 percent in dollar terms in April, data released over the weekend showed, while imports dropped for the 18th month in a row. Japan’s Topix rose 0.6 percent as the yen weakened.

“Markets remain very cautious,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said by phone. “There’s a lot of focus on potential negatives. There are significant risks in normalizing global monetary systems. The Chinese numbers were a bit disappointing with both export and import volumes showing a decline.”

Investor sentiment toward Chinese stocks has turned more bearish as a boom in commodities futures waned and data showed March’s pick up in economic indicators didn’t carry over to April, with manufacturing gauges missing predictions. The Shanghai Composite has lost 20 percent this year, the biggest decline among global benchmark indexes tracked by Bloomberg.

Japan’s Topix rose after dropping 7.8 percent over the previous six sessions. Investors cheered better-than-forecast corporate earnings while exporters gained after the yen fell. The currency slipped 0.4 percent to trade at 107.52 per dollar after rising 0.1 percent on Friday.

Japan started its heaviest week for quarterly earnings. Trading company Sojitz Corp. surged 8 percent after announcing profit targets that beat expectations. Industrial manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. added 5.3 percent after its forecast for operating profit topped previous estimates. Honda Motor Co. and Sony Corp. paced gains among exporters, rising at least 1.6 percent.

Regional Gauges

South Korea’s Kospi Index dropped 0.5 percent. The Jakarta Composite Index declined 1.6 percent to the lowest since Feb. 26. Taiwan’s Taiex index lost 0.2 percent, as did New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index. Hong Kong’s Hang Index added 0.2 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.7 percent.

Orica Ltd., the largest supplier of explosives to the mining industry, tumbled 12 percent in Sydney after the company said it doesn’t see any speedy recovery for commodities markets. Noble Group Ltd. dropped 8.6 percent in Singapore after Fitch Ratings Ltd. placed Asia’s biggest commodity trader on negative credit watch.

Philippine Election

Philippine markets are shut as Filipinos vote in a hotly contested election that’s seen Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial mayor of Davao City, propelled to the front of the pack with his tough talk to combat crime and deal with traffic-clogged roads.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed. The benchmark U.S. gauge added 0.3 percent after jobs data showed American employers added fewer workers than economists estimated in April, bolstering speculation a rate increase will be gradual.

West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 1.6 percent after fires in Canada’s Alberta province spread toward oil-sands facilities, knocking out an estimated 1 million barrels of production, and after Saudi Arabia replaced Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi with a close ally of the deputy crown prince.

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