Asia Stock Markets Climb as Investors Mull Japan Data

Most Asian stock markets rose Tuesday after Japan reported better-than-expected data for April. Shares in Japan were also buoyed by expectations that a 2017 sales tax hike will be delayed until 2019, and by a weakening in the Japanese yen.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to 17,173.97 and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.5 percent to 1,977.69. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.2 percent to 20,879.26 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China jumped 2.2 percent to 2,884.83. Sydney’s SP/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent to 5,393.60. Shares in Taiwan and Southeast Asia were mostly lower.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: Market sentiment was relatively upbeat as investors found some solace in the latest economic data from Japan, which showed factory output and consumer spending data improved in April, though they remained weak. Investors are also watching for the latest monthly manufacturing index for China, due Wednesday, and an OPEC meeting Thursday as they seek to gauge the world economic outlook.

ANALYST’S INSIGHT: “The focus will be on U.S. data tonight, as U.S. markets return from Memorial Day,” Bernard Aw of IG said in a commentary, noting concern over whether the Fed will push ahead with rate hikes as recently suggested by Fed chair Janet Yellen. “Investors will be keen to see if U.S. data this week will corroborate the Fed’s slightly optimistic tone.”

SHANGHAI SURGE: Chinese stocks jumped on speculation that global stock benchmark provider MSCI may include yuan-denominated shares in its indices for the first time. Any changes would take effect in June. Inclusion of China’s so-called “A-shares” would attract more foreign investment as fund managers rebalance their portfolios.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 23 cents to $49.56 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 14 cents to $50.22 per barrel in London.

CURRENCY: The dollar strengthened to 111.28 yen from 110.95 yen in Monday’s trading. The euro edged up to $1.1149 from $1.1146.

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