Asian shares slip, focus on China data

2012-10-15 07:45

Hong ong - Asian markets fell on Monday following a soft lead from Wall Street, while better-than-expected Chinese trade data was unable to lift spirits as dealers await growth figures from Beijing later in the week.

With the corporate earnings season under way there is also nervousness in global bourses, with many investors concerned opting to stay away for now.

Tokyo was flat by the break, Hong Kong eased 0.14%, Shanghai was 0.54% lower, Seoul lost 0.34% and Sydney was off 0.15%.

China said on Saturday that exports rose 9.9% 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 China's trading partners, widened to $27.7bn for the month, up from $26.7bn in August.

The increase beat predictions of a 5% 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% last month, slightly softer than 2% 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 provide 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 damp note as traders fret about the corporate outlook.

The Dow ended flat, the broad-based S&P 500 lost 0.30% and the Nasdaq added 0.17%.

On currency markets the eurozone debt crisis continued to weigh on the single currency. The euro bought $1.2905 and ¥101.25 in early trade, compared with $1.2958 and ¥101.60 in New York late on Friday.

The dollar was at ¥78.46 against ¥78.39 in US trade.

In Hong Kong telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp. slumped 16.6% 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 firm, Huawei, pose a security threat to the country and should be barred from US contracts and acquisitions.

And in Tokyo, mobile carrier Softbank slumped almost 6% on reports it could imminently announce a deal to buy US competitor Sprint Nextel for $20bn, which would be one of Japan's biggest ever overseas acquisitions.

Softbank had already slumped 17% on the initial news of the buyout plan.

Oil prices fell, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November shedding 72 cents to $91.14 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for November delivery falling 72 cents to $113.90.

Gold was at $1 743.60 at 03:00 GMT compared with $1 767.80 late on Friday.

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