Asian stocks mixed with eye on economic releases

Singapore: Asian stock markets were mixed Friday ahead of more regional economic releases that could hint at how the delta variant is affecting growth.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.1 per cent to 28,042.08. while South Korea’s Kospi slid 1.3 per cent to 3,168.08. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 0.6 per cent to 26,357.13.

The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.1 per cent to 3,522.86, while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.5 per cent to 7,622.10. New Zealand’s benchmark jumped, while those in Singapore and Indonesia fell.

Japan and Thailand will report their economic growth for the second quarter next week. While traders won’t pay much attention to this backdated GDP data, they will watch how the delta variant is hitting the wider growth trajectory, ING analysts said in a report.

China will also release its industrial output and retail sales figures for July. This comes after the country’s services sector was shown to have rebounded ahead of a fresh COVID-19 wave.

Industrial production will be watched after the July trade data release, which was regarded to be resilient but missed the consensus, Lewis Cooper of IHS Markit said.

Over on Wall Street on Thursday, gains by technology and health care companies outweighed a pullback elsewhere in the market.

Traders worked through a mixed picture of economic data. The Labor Department said that jobless claims fell to 375,000 from 387,000 the previous week, another sign that the job market is healing from the pandemic.

At the same time, inflation at the wholesale level jumped a higher-than-expected 1 per cent in July, matching the rise from the previous month.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3 per cent to 4,460.83, in its third straight all-time high. Several big technology stocks, including Apple, rose and countered weakness in chipmakers, industrial firms and energy companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added less than 0.1 per cent to 35,499.85. The blue-chip index also set its third record high in three days. The tech-heavy Nasdaq edged up 0.3 per cent to 14,816.26.