Asian stocks rose across the board on Tuesday as last week's bleak Chinese trade data as well as disappointing GDP data from Japan reinforced expectations of further stimulus measures from major central banks. Gains, however, were modest as investors awaited key economic data due out of Europe and the United States due later in the global day for further cues on additional monetary easing.
A slew of data from the troubled euro zone, including gross domestic product figures, and July U.S. retail sales and consumer price inflation data will be released today, providing direction to traders betting on additional central bank stimulus to bolster growth. Commodities gained ground and the euro rose broadly as investors cheered better-than-expected French and German growth data.
Tokyo stocks rose on bargain hunting, although trading volumes continued to remain thin due to the ongoing Obon summer holiday season and ahead of key data due from Europe and the U.S. later in the day. The Nikkei briefly neared the psychologically important 9,000 mark early in the session before ending half a percent higher at 8,930, while the broader Topix index ended 0.4 percent higher.
Export-linked shares ended mixed with Honda Motor up 0.1 percent and Canon rising half a percent, while Sony tumbled 3.3 percent. Convenience store operator Lawson and telecom Softbank rose 2-3 percent on defensive buying. Tokyo Electron lost 2.3 percent after it agreed to buy U.S.-based chipmaker FSI International Inc in an all-cash deal for $252.5 million.
Toshiba retreated 3.7 percent on reports it is in talks to sell a 16 percent stake in its U.S. Westinghouse nuclear power-plant unit. Seven & I Holdings slid 0.9 percent in the wake of reports that it is seeking 10 percent growth in operating profit for its convenience store business in the next fiscal year ending February 2014.
China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.3 percent, with declines in brokerages for a second straight session limiting further upside. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.9 percent, rising for the first time in three sessions, after German growth data beat estimates.
Preliminary estimates from the Federal Statistical Office showed that Germany's gross domestic product rose 0.3 percent sequentially in the second quarter, beating expectations for a 0.2 percent growth. This followed a 0.5 percent expansion in GDP in the first quarter and 0.1 percent contraction in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Separately, preliminary figures released by the statistical office Insee showed that the French economy recorded zero growth for a third consecutive quarter in the three months through June, beating forecasts for a forecast of 0.1 percent contraction. The fourth quarter 2011 GDP was revised to show no growth from the previously reported 0.1 percent growth.
Australian shares eked out modest gains, led by defensive stocks such as Telstra and CSL, which ended up 2.7 percent and 1.8 percent respectively. Both the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 and the broader All Ordinaries index rose about 0.2 percent each.
Shares of National Australia Bank fell 1.4 percent after the nation's top lender by assets posted flat quarterly profit, missing estimates, due to high funding costs and weak results at its U.K. operations. ANZ slid 0.2 percent and Commonwealth edged down 0.3 percent, but Westpac rose 0.7 percent.
Miners ended mixed, with Rio Tinto down 0.1 percent and Fortescue retreating 1.8 percent, while BHP gained 0.2 percent. Aquila Resources tumbled almost 8 percent after it decided to curb expenditure it had initially allotted on its Pilbara iron ore project because of falling prices. BlueScope Steel soared 12.9 percent, extending the previous session's gains, after the company agreed to form a new joint venture with Japan's Nippon Steel Corp.
South Korea's Kospi average rallied 1.3 percent on strong foreign buying, boosted by continued hopes for central bank easing. Meanwhile, with oil costs easing and export prices falling sharply amid weak economic outlook, South Korea's import prices fell for the second consecutive month in July on an annual basis, customs office data showed.
New Zealand shares rose for a third consecutive session, led by Goodman Fielder after the Australian food ingredient maker posted a narrower full-year loss despite challenging trading conditions. Shares of the company jumped 4.8 percent, lifting the benchmark NZX-50 index up 0.4 percent to 3,609. Contact Energy rose 0.6 percent after the utility posted a 27 percent rise in annual profit, beating estimates.
Freightways, the courier and data management group, advanced 1.5 percent after it reported a 24 percent rise in annual profit and forecast further growth in the coming year. Rural services firm PGG Wrightson led the declines on the exchange, falling 3.2 percent, while stock exchange operator NZX slid 1.7 percent and outdoor clothing and equipment company Kathmandu Holdings lost 0.6 percent.
Elsewhere, India's benchmark Sensex was last trading up half a percent after government data showed the headline inflation reached a 32-month low of 6.87 percent in July, although doubts persist over whether the RBI will cut rates at its September meeting.
Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index rose half a percent, Malaysia's KLSE Composite edged up 0.4 percent, Singapore's Straits Times was gaining 0.6 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average advanced 0.6 percent.
On Wall Street, stocks turned in a lackluster performance overnight, with disappointing Japanese economic data and profit taking following recent strength contributing to the weakness. The tech-heavy Nasdaq edged up 0.1 percent, while the Dow slid 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 edged down 0.1 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org