China data brings relief for Asia stocks
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Asia stocks moved higher in a choppy session on Friday, as investors absorbed a slew of Chinese data, including figures showing the nation's economy grew in line with expectations during the second quarter of 2012.
China's economy expanded 7.6% in the second quarter from a year earlier, broadly in line with expectations of economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires. Read more on the China data.
In other data released simultaneously Friday by the National Bureau of Statistics, industrial production was also slightly weaker, expanding 9.5% in June, compared to May's 9.6% expansion.
Tom Kaan, director equity sales at Louis Capital Markets in Hong Kong, said market reaction to the data signaled investor relief that the economy was holding up reasonably well.
"It is not a bad GDP number, and some were expecting it to be worse because the news... including the trade figure, has been pretty dismal," Kaan said.
"The Chinese economy is slowing down and officials are going to mete out stimulus program. The million dollar question is how big the program [will be]," Kaan said.
All five benchmarks mentioned above ended the week with losses, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ending 3.6% in the red, followed by a 3.3% drop for Japan's Nikkei. The Shanghai Composite fared relatively better, losing 1.7%.
Deutsche Bank China chief economist Jun Ma is forecasting up to three more cuts to reserve requirement ratios and one more interest rate cut, amongst other measures to stimulate the Chinese economy during the second half of 2012.
Resource and financial-sector shares were among the gainers after the release of the Chinese data.
According to media reports later in the day, the company's co-Chairmen Thomas Kwok and Raymond Kwok were among five individuals charged Friday with offenses linked to bribery and misconduct. Read full story Sun Hung Kai corruption report.
The Bank of Korea downgraded its 2012 growth forecast on Friday, fueling expectations for another interest rate cut just one day after the central bank surprised markets with its first cut in more than three years. Read full story on Thursday's rate cut.
The dollar (USDKRW) traded at 1,151.37 won on Friday, from 1,139.90 won in late trading on Thursday.
A lift for financial firms helped to buoy Sydney.
U.S. stocks matched their longest losing streak this year on Thursday, with losses driven by downbeat corporate forecasts and worries about the global economy. Read more on the U.S. session.