Asian Stocks Slip as Investors Mull China Growth Report

A man walks past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan January 12, 2016. Japan's Nikkei fell 2.7 percent after a market holiday on Monday, closing at its lowest in nearly a year, while U.S. stock mini futures were in the red pointing to a weak start. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A man walks past an electronic board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)

Asian stocks mostly edged lower on Friday as investors assessed a report on Chinese quarterly economic growth while Japanese shares dropped after an earthquake. Market players were also watching for cues on currencies and other policies from a meeting in Washington, D.C., of financial ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 leading industrial nations.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan shed 0.4 percent to 16,842.75, while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.2 percent to 2,011.98. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng crept 0.2 percent lower to 21,297.68 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China eased 0.3 percent to 3,074.26. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.3 percent to 5,131.30. Southeast Asian benchmarks were mixed.

Official data showed that China’s economy slowed further in the latest quarter, with growth easing to 6.7, which was the lowest in seven years. There were few surprises for investors in the figures, which were largely in line with economists’ forecasts and suggest that the world’s largest economy is on track to meet the official full-year growth target.

“In the absence of any significant surprises from China, today seems likely to be a day of consolidation for the ASX 200. Other markets are pausing with some signs of profit taking,” said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

Major U.S. benchmarks finished with little change. The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.1 percent to 17,926.43. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index ticked up 0.36 points to 2,082.78. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.53 points to 4,945.89.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 9 cents to $41.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 26 cents to settle at $41.50 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 4 cents to $43.88 a barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 109.63 yen from 109.37 yen in the previous day’s trading and the euro fell to $1.1261 from $1.1266.