Asian markets quiet, even as Chinas GDP beats expectations

Asian stock markets struggled for direction Tuesday morning, though beaten-up equities in Hong Kong and China got a lift from news of better-than-expected economic growth in the mainland.

Chinas gross domestic product in the first quarter increased 6.8% from a year earlier, beating expectations slightly and equaling 2017s growth. March retail sales also rose slightly more than analysts expected, though industrial-production growth fell short.

Read: Chinas economy bucks forecasts with 6.8% growth

Hong Kongs Hang Seng Index
HSI, -0.42%
, which fell more than 0.5% just after the start of trading, briefly went into the black for the day after the data was released but was recently little changed. A smaller reaction was seen in China, though the Shanghai Composite
SHCOMP, -0.88%
momentarily turned higher as well. It was recently down 0.2%.

Both indexes entered Tuesdays trading on three-day losing streaks, lagging other stock markets in Asia. Property and financial stocks have been pressure points amid worries about interest rates.

While Tuesdays economic numbers were strong, forecasts about the rest of 2018 have been cooling regarding China, noted Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International. We will have poor figures ahead, he predicted.

While most indexes were within 0.3% of Mondays closing levels as midday approached Tuesday, Taiwans benchmark was a noted underperformer. The Taiex
Y9999, -1.36%
fell almost 1% amid a 1.6% slide in index heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor
2330, -2.26%
. Japans Nikkei
NIK, -0.04%
was about flat.

Broadly, investor worries around trade and the Middle East are in the rear view mirror. Both easing geopolitical tensions and expectations of upbeat corporate results could strengthen the bearish momentum, said Klaus Baader, global chief economist at Soci茅t茅 G茅n茅rale.

The S&P 500
SPX, +0.81%
rose 0.8% on Monday amid upbeat first-quarter reports, and futures were recently up 0.1%.

In Hong Kong, the citys de facto central bank was forced to buy dollars again during late New York trading on Monday as the Hong Kong currency continues to hit the weak end of its trading band versus the U.S. dollar. Since Thursday, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has purchased HK$19 billion.

Outflows of liquidity in the banking system is another worry that will drive the Hong Kong stock market to be soft in the short term, said Pang.

One local stock not trading today is Chinese telecom-equipment giant ZTE, after the U.S. and the U.K. took fresh steps Monday against the firm, including a ban on American firms selling to ZTE. Jefferies slashed its stock target by more than half while dropping its investment rating to underperform from buy.

In other markets, oil futures
LCOM8, +0.35%
rose over 0.5% in Asia after falling more than 1% on Monday. The market jumped 8% last week to reach levels last seen in late 2014.

Related Topics Asia Markets China Japan Australia Singapore Foreign Investment

Quote References HSI -127.98 -0.42% SHCOMP -27.46 -0.88% Y9999 -148.82 -1.36% 2330 -5.50 -2.26% NIK -9.74 -0.04% SPX +21.54 +0.81% LCOM8 +0.25 +0.35% Show all references
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