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Economy

Asian Shares Mostly Lower on Lackluster China, Japan Data

September 16, 2021

Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Thursday after Japan and China released data that were weaker than expected.

Shares fell in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul but rose in Sydney.

Japan reported that its exports rose 26.2% in August from a year earlier, but that was well below forecasts for a rise of over 30%, Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Relative weakness in vehicle exports might reflect shortages of semiconductors and other components that have prompted some manufacturers to cut output, he noted.

China reported late Wednesday that its retail sales grew an anemic 2.5% in August, down from 8.5% in July, while factory output slowed to 5.3% from 6.4% the month before.

It was the slowest growth in output since May 2020.

“Yesterday's China data were a real shock," RaboResearch Global Economics & Markets said in a report. “This is hardly what one calls a robust consumer recovery," it said.

Adding to investors' unease, reports said major property developer Evergrande would fail to make interest payments due next week. Rating agencies have warned the cash-strapped company could default on its debt.

Its Hong Kong traded shares fell 7.8% on Thursday.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.7% to 30,295.97 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 1.9% to 24,560.34. The Shanghai Composite index gave up 0.9% to 3,623.06 and the Kospi in Seoul lost 0.5% to 3,136.73.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7% to 7,465.90. Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore and Jakarta.

On Wednesday, energy and technology companies helped lift stocks on Wall Street broadly higher, reversing the market's pullback from a day earlier.

The S&P 500 rose 0.8% to 4,480.70 after another day of choppy trading. It was the biggest daily gain for the benchmark index since late August and it put the S&P 500 on pace to close the week higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.7% to 34,814.39. The Nasdaq composite added 0.8% to 15,161.53. Small-company stocks did even better, with the Russell 2000 index gaining 1.1%, to 2,234.45.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 1.30%. Higher yields benefit banks, which can in turn charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. Citigroup rose 2.4% and Capital One Financial gained 2.9%.

Oil prices rose 3.1% and natural gas prices rose 3.8% as the oil and gas industry continues to sort through the damage caused by hurricane season in the Gulf. Disruptions have been more pronounced than originally expected, and there’s been some oil spills from some refineries.

ExxonMobil gained 3.4%, while Occidental Petroleum climbed 6.1% and Marathon Oil finished 7.7% higher.

By midday Thursday, benchmark U.S. crude oil was up 8 cents more, at $72.69 per barrel. Brent crude, the standard for international pricing, gained 10 cents to $75.56 per barrel.

Casino stocks slumped following reports of a possible crackdown on the industry by Chinese officials in Macau, the former Portuguese colony and gambling center. Wynn Resorts fell 6.3% for the biggest drop in the S&P 500, while MGM Resorts fell 2.5% and Las Vegas Sands slid 1.7%.

The companies' Hong Kong traded shares have plunged and fell further on Thursday.

Wall Street will get get more information on jobs and consumer spending on Thursday when the Labor Department releases its weekly report on unemployment benefits and the Commerce Department releases retail sales data for August.

In currency trading, the dollar slipped to 109.25 Japanese yen from 109.38 yen late Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.1806 from $1.1817.

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