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Asian Shares Mostly Higher As Fed Rate Hike Bets Cool


Asian stocks rose broadly on Monday as weak U.S. retail sales and inflation data served to cool Fed rate hike speculation and data showed the Chinese economy grew more than expected in the second quarter. The Japanese markets were closed for the Marine Day holiday.

Chinese shares tumbled as a series of profit warnings from small-cap companies and the government's focus on increased regulatory scrutiny overshadowed encouraging GDP data.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index fell 45.95 points or 1.43 percent to 3,176.46 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 85 points or 0.32 percent at 26,473 in late trade.

China's GDP grew 6.9 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics said . That was unchanged from the previous quarter and exceeded expectations for a rise of 6.8 percent.

On a quarterly basis, GDP growth stood at 1.7 percent - in line with expectations and up from 1.3 percent in the previous three months.

Retail sales jumped an annual 11.0 percent in June, beating forecasts for 10.6 percent and up from 10.7 percent in May, while industrial output climbed 7.6 percent from last year, topping expectations for an increase of 6.5 percent. Fixed asset investment gained an annual 8.6 percent - unchanged from the previous month and beating forecasts for 8.5 percent.

Australian shares ended a choppy session slightly lower as banks lost ground, offsetting gains in the material and energy sectors. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slid 9.60 points or 0.17 percent to 5,755.50 while the broader All Ordinaries index finished down 7.90 points or 0.14 percent at 5,800.80.

The big four banks fell between 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent ahead of this week's APRA announcement of new capital rules for major banks. Insurer Medibank Private tumbled 3.8 percent and Insurance Australia Group declined 0.9 percent while investment bank Macquarie Group closed marginally higher.

Telecom giant Telstra fell 1.9 percent on concerns that its dividend may be cut. Mining stocks bucked the weak trend, with Fortescue Metals Group rallying 1.9 percent and South32 climbing as much as 4.7 percent. Oil & gas producer Santos jumped 2.7 percent and Oil Search advanced 1.7 percent.

Seoul stocks hit fresh record highs and the South Korean won also rose to close at over a four-week high on improved risk appetite amid diminished prospects of a third interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve this year. The benchmark Kospi rose 10.47 points or 0.43 percent to 2,425.10.

New Zealand shares rose as investors waited for inflation data and the results of the Globaldairy Trade price auction. The benchmark S&P/NZX50 index climbed 49.80 points or 0.65 percent to 7,699.57, led by retirement village operators such as Summerset Holdings and Metlifecare.

Activity in New Zealand's services sector continued to expand in June, albeit at a slightly slower rate, the latest survey from Business NZ showed today with a PMI score of 58.6, down from 58.8 in May.

Singapore's Straits Times index was moving up 0.3 percent after official data showed the country's non-oil domestic exports grew at a faster-than-expected pace in June, due to the increase in both electronic and non-electronic exports.

India's Sensex and the Taiwan Weighted were up around 0.1 percent each while Indonesian and Malaysian shares were marginally lower.

U.S. stocks rose on Friday as oil prices rose, technology and healthcare stocks advanced and several banks reported their second-quarter earnings.

The Dow rose 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 added half a percent to reach fresh record closing highs while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.6 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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