Asian shares slide as focus shifts to US inflation data

crisisCanberra (dpa-AFX) – Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Tuesday as investors awaited US inflation data later this week for more indications about the Fed’s policy outlook.

Chinese shares fell, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite index dropping 19.43 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 3,580.11. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended marginally lower at 28,781.38.

Japanese shares ended a volatile session lower, snapping two straight sessions of gains even as the government revised first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) higher.

Japan’s GDP shrank an annualized 3.9 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, the Cabinet Office said in a final reading amid a resurge of Covid-19 cases and slow vaccine roll-outs. That exceeded expectations for a decline of 4.8 per cent following the 11.7-per-cent surge in the three months prior.

On a quarterly basis, GDP was down 1.0 per cent – again beating forecasts for a decline of 1.2 per cent following the 2.8-per-cent increase in the previous three months.

The Nikkei average slipped 55.68 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 28,963.56, while the broader Topix index finished marginally lower at 1,962.65. Eisai shares soared 19.3 per cent as US regulators approved a new drug developed by Biogen and Eisai for Alzheimer’s disease.

Australian markets swung between gains and losses before finishing slightly higher for the day as new coronavirus cases declined and a survey of business conditions reached a record high in May.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 hit a record high before ending the session up 10.70 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 7,292.60. The broader All Ordinaries index inched up 10.70 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 7,542.30.

Technology stocks tracked the Nasdaq higher, with Afterpay, Xero and Appen climbing 1-3 per cent. Nearmap rallied 4.6 per cent and Wisetech Global shares surged as much as 5.8 per cent.

Miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto fell about 1 per cent as iron ore prices declined. Gold miner Northern Star Resources rose over 1 per cent as gold held near the key level of 1,900 dollars an ounce in Asian trade on dollar weakness and lower bond yields.

Seoul stocks slipped into the red as valuation concerns offset hopes of a swifter economic recovery. The benchmark Kospi dipped 4.29 points, or 0.13 per cent, to close at 3,247.83.

Chipmaker SK Hynix shed 0.8 per cent and chemical firm LG Chem gave up 0.7 per cent, while pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics advanced 1.5 per cent and carmaker Hyundai Motor added 0.8 per cent.

South Korea’s current account surplus shrank dramatically in April, the Bank of Korea said today – coming in at 1.91 billion dollars. That’s down sharply from 7.82 billion in March. The goods account surplus increased to 4.56 billion dollars, compared to 0.7 billion dollars in April.

New Zealand shares eked out modest gains, with the benchmark NZX-50 index ending up 21.38 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 12,517.65. A2 Milk, Spark New Zealand and Contact Energy climbed 1-2 per cent.

US stocks ended mixed overnight amid lingering inflation worries and news of a global minimum corporate tax rate. The Dow dropped 0.4 per cent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.1 per cent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose half a per cent.