TOKYO: Shares meandered in Asia on Tuesday as fresh inflation data from China raised uncertainties over how the world’s second largest economy will keep growth on track while curbing speculative bubbles and rising corporate debt.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.6 percent to 19,333.90 and the Kospi in South Korea slipped 0.3 percent to 2,044.34. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.6 percent to 22,681.81. The Shanghai Composite index shed 0.2 percent to 3,166.36 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 plunged 0.8 percent to 5,760.70 on weaker-than-expected retail sales data. India’s Sensex rose 0.4 percent to 26,837.62. Markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.
CHINA ECONOMY: China’s main planning agency said the economy is estimated to have grown 6.7 percent in 2016, within the target range of 6.5 percent to 7 percent. Officials said Beijing would continue to cut excess capacity in steelmaking and other industries. Meanwhile, the government reported that China’s factory price index hit a five-year high in December at 5.5 percent over a year before. Consumer prices rose 2.1 percent in December and 2 percent in 2016, the data released Tuesday showed.
ANALYST VIEW POINT: Higher prices could delay efforts to curb excess industrial capacity, while the central bank is still focused on curbing speculative pressures and mounting debt, David Qu and Raymond Yeung of ANZ said in a commentary. “Given slowing growth and uncertainties in the economy, such as exports and fixed asset investment, we do not think the central bank will start to tighten in the first half of 2017,” they said. “However, high inflation rates will push market interest rates higher.”
WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 76.42 points, or 0.4 percent, to 19,887.38. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 8.08 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,268.90. The Nasdaq rose 10.76 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,531.82. Future gains will likely depend on corporate earnings, which are due out soon.
ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil steadied, gaining 10 cents to $52.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It fell $2.03, or 3.8 percent, to close at $51.96 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, gained 9 cents to $55.03.
CURRENCIES: The pound fell to $1.2150 from $1.2274, its lowest level since October, amid indications the British government is inclined to opt for a full break away from the European Union’s single market. It was trading at $1.2171 on Tuesday. The dollar fell to 115.62 yen from 116.01 yen in late trading Monday. The euro rose to $1.0607 from $1.0532.