Asian stocks mostly down on US rates expectations
HONG KONG – Most Asian markets slipped Monday, February 9 as a strong US jobs report fueled expectations the Federal Reserve will bring forward an interest rate rise.
But poor Chinese trade data lifted shares in Shanghai on hopes Beijing will introduce renewed easing measures.
Oil prices advanced after last week enjoying their best weekly gains in 4 years.
Traders are also watching events in Europe as Greece's new anti-austerity government prepares to meet its creditors.
Tokyo ended 0.36% higher, adding 63.43 points to 17,711.93 as the yen softened against the dollar in reaction to the US jobs data.
Shanghai finished up 0.62%, or 19.22 points, at 3,095.12.
But Sydney, which jumped more than 10% during a 12-day winning streak, ended marginally lower, giving up 5.3 points to 5,814.9.
Seoul closed 0.44%, or 8.52 points, lower at 1,947.00 and Hong Kong slipped 0.64%, or 158.39 points, to 24,521.00.
China on Sunday said exports fell 3.2% year-on-year in January.
Imports plunged 19.7% -- the largest drop in 5 years -- owing to lower commodity prices and sluggish domestic demand.
The figures are the latest illustration of China's slowing economy, which in 2014 expanded at its slowest rate in 24 years.
However, mainland Chinese traders took the news as a catalyst to buy, with hopes that leaders will further loosen monetary policy.
Last week, authorities cut the amount of cash which banks must keep in reserve, after lowering interest rates in November.
Investors are also tracking the US Fed after a better-than-expected jobs report on Friday increased the chances of an early rate increase.
The Labor Department said 257,000 jobs were created in January and it revised upward already healthy growth in the prior two months. It also said hourly wage growth gained 0.5%, a big improvement after a December drop.
Oil extends rally
"This US jobs report has altered market expectations for rate rises from the Fed, with many now expecting the Fed to raise rates in the early summer," said Stewart Richardson, chief investment officer at RMG Wealth Management LLP in London.
"We will see just how brave the Fed will be," he told Bloomberg News.
Wall Street's 3 main indexes ended lower Friday, February 6.
The Dow dipped 0.34%, the S&P 500 also lost 0.34%, and the Nasdaq gave up 0.43%.
The dollar rallied Friday following the announcement, climbing to 119.00 yen in New York from 117.33 yen in Tokyo earlier in the day. On Monday it was at 118.95 yen.
The euro bought $1.1341 and 134.87 yen on Monday against $1.1316 and 134.65 yen in US trade.
On oil markets, the two main contracts extended their recent gains following the US jobs data as well as a decline in the number of US rigs drilling.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery rose 36 cents to $52.05, while Brent crude for March rose 10 cents to $57.90 in afternoon trade.
Last week saw WTI surge 7% and Brent add 9.4%, their best weekly gains since February 2011.
Gold fetched $1,242. 23 an ounce, against $1,264.34 on Friday.
In other markets
Singapore closed down 0.39%, or 13.34 points, to 3,418.02.
Real estate developer CapitaLand fell 1.41% to SG$3.50 while United Overseas Bank finished 0.04% lower at SG$23.52.
Jakarta ended up 0.11%, or 5.96 points, at 5,348.47.
Lender Bank Negara Indonesia gained 3% to 6,875 rupiah, while cigarette manufacturer Gudang Garam slipped 2.52% to 57,025 rupiah.
Kuala Lumpur's main stock index lost 0.09%, or 1.67 points, to close at 1,811.58.
Dutch Lady fell 0.42% to 47.64 ringgit, Tenaga rose 0.40% to 14.80, and AirAsia gained 0.72% to 2.80 ringgit.
Bangkok lost 0.73%, or 11.86 points, to 1,601.77.
Telecoms company Total Access Communication gained 3.27% to 94.75 baht, while Siam Commercial Bank dropped 2.19% to 179.00 baht.
Mumbai fell 1.71%, or 490.52 points, to 28,227.39.
Engineering major Larsen & Toubro fell 6.61% to 1,573.00 rupees, while Dr Reddy's Laboratories rose 2.01% to 3,109.00 rupees.
Taipei fell 0.37%, or 34.68 points, to 9,421.5.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was 0.70% lower at TW$142.0 while Hon Hai Precision Industry edged down 0.34% to TW$87.0.
Wellington eased 0.48%, or 28.02 points, to 5,769.57.
Spark was down 1.72% at NZ$3.43 and Contact Energy slipped 0.99% to NZ$7.03.
Manila closed 0.70% higher, adding 54.39 points to 7,782.57. – Rappler.com