Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday as investors weighed comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on interest rates against weaker-than-expected U.S. nonfarm payrolls data released on Friday. Disappointing Chinese trade data also kept underlying sentiment cautious.
Chinese shares ended slightly higher despite downbeat trade data. China’s imports and exports grew again in May, but both missed expectations, official data released earlier in the day showed.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 7.70 points, or 0.21 percent, to 3,599.54 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended down 130.82 points, or 0.45 percent, at 28,787.28.
Japanese shares edged higher to extend gains from the previous session as investor concerns about inflation ebbed.
The Nikkei average rose high as 1.0 percent to hit a nearly four-week high in early trade before giving up most gains to end the session up 77.72 points, or 0.27 percent, at 29,019.24.
The broader Topix index ended little changed with a positive bias at 1,960.85, after having scaled a two-month intraday high earlier in the session.
Tech stocks ended mixed, with Ibiden climbing as much as 3.5 percent. With ocean freight rates rising steady, shipping firm Nippon Yusen rose 2.4 percent to hit a 12-year high, Kawasaki Kisen jumped 5.5 percent and Mitsui OSK Lines advanced 2.3 percent.
Steelmakers fell on profit taking after recent strong gains. Nippon Steel plunged 5.7 percent, JFE Holdings plummeted 7.2 percent and Kobe Steel slumped 5.2 percent. Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial fell over 1 percent, tracking lower U.S. bond yields.
Australian markets fluctuated before ending slightly lower as Victoria State reported its biggest rise in new local COVID-19 cases in a week.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 13.50 points, or 0.19 percent, to 7,281.90, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 11.70 points, or 0.16 percent, at 7,531.60.
Lender NAB tumbled 3.2 percent after saying it is under investigation for suspected serious and ongoing breaches of anti-money laundering laws.
Crown Resorts fell 1.5 percent and Star Entertainment Group lost over 2 percent for suspected breaches of anti-money laundering laws.
Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto posted modest gains. Technology stocks rose broadly, with Afterpay rising 2 percent, Wisetech Global climbing 3 percent and Appen surging 6.1 percent.
Hansen Technologies jumped 22.6 percent to reach record highs after the software firm received a $1-billion buyout pitch from private equity firm BGH Capital.
The services sector in Australia expanded at a slightly faster pace in May, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed today with a seasonally adjusted Performance of Services Index score of 61.2, up from 61.0 in April. This was the highest monthly result in the Australian PSI since October 2003.
Markets in New Zealand were closed for Queen’s birthday. Seoul stocks closed at a record high as weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data helped ease concerns over early tapering by the Federal Reserve.
The benchmark Kospi inched up 12.04 points, or 0.37 percent, to close at 3,252.12, marking the highest closing ever. Internet portal operator Naver rose 1.5 percent and chemical firm LG Chem added 0.6 percent.
U.S. stocks ended firmly in positive territory on Friday after the Labor Department report showed job growth in the U.S. reaccelerated in May but still fell short of economist estimates, helping ease inflation and tapering jitters.
Non-farm payroll employment jumped by 559,000 jobs in May after climbing by an upwardly revised 278,000 jobs in April. Economists had expected employment to surge by 650,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in May from 6.1 percent in April, while economists had expected the unemployment rate to dip to 5.9 percent.
The Dow rose half a percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index rallied 1.5 percent.
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