Asia shares mostly lower as China GDP data disappoints
TOKYO (AP) Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday as investors absorbed the news that China's economy grew at its slowest pace in nearly six years in the first quarter.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index fell 0.01 percent to 19,905.78, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.1 percent to 27,547.60. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.1 percent to 4,089.52. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2 percent to 2,115.08 on positive news for electronics makers, but in Australia, whose resource sector is vulnerable to fluctuations in Chinese demand, the S&P ASX200 fell 0.8 percent to 5,899.40. Shares in Taiwan, New Zealand and most of Southeast Asia were also lower.
CHINA DATA: China's economy cooled further as manufacturing and retail sales slowed in January-March, raising pressure on Beijing to keep the world's second-largest economy on track. Growth fell to 7 percent from the previous quarter's 7.3 percent, the weakest performance since growth tumbled to 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009.
THE QUOTE: "China remains an attractive equity market," James Griffiths of Citi Research said in a commentary Wednesday. But he added, "If the Chinese market were to double from here it would indeed be in bubble. The same is true for Asia."
ON WALL STREET: The Dow Jones average rose 59.66 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,036.70 on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 climbed 3.41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,095.84. Gains in share prices were capped by expectations that earnings may drop from the quarter before, sapped by such factors as labor strife at West Coast ports and the stronger dollar.
ENERGY: Oil prices rose on indications that U.S. oil production in places like North Dakota is beginning to slip due to reduced drilling activity in recent months. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 29 cents to $53.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $1.38 to close at $53.29 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 39 cents to $60.20 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 119.60 yen from 119.45. The euro fell to $1.0627 from $1.0648.