Asian Stocks Mixed After China Data Released

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -
A currency trader walks by the screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Asian stock markets were mixed on Friday as disappointing Chinese trade data dented already bleak investor sentiment following U.S. President-elect’s Donald Trump’s news conference.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.8 percent to 19,287.28. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.4 percent to 22,927.17. But China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.3 percent to 3,109.63 and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.5 percent to 2,076.79. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slumped 0.8 percent to 5,721.10. Shares gained in Singapore and Indonesia but fell in Taiwan and the Philippines.

“A correction may have been due following the exuberance of the market reaction to the election of Trump,” said Alex Furber, a sales trader at CMC Markets. “Uncertainty lies ahead and market participants will want to see how the new administration takes shape.”

Customs data showed that Chinese exports sank 6.1 percent in December from a year earlier. In November, China’s exports eked out a 0.1 percent expansion after shrinking for nine straight months. Imports rose 3.1 percent from a year earlier.

Samsung Electronics fell 3.5 percent, its first drop in about a week, pulling the benchmark Kospi lower. The share price of the world’s largest maker of memory chips and smartphones had hit new highs in recent weeks, driven by expectations of strong earnings from its semiconductor business. Prosecutors investigating the influence-peddling scandal that prompted the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye named Lee Jae-yong, Samsung vice chairman, a bribery suspect in the political scandal. Lee left the prosecutors’ office Friday morning after a 22- hour-long grilling and prosecutors said they will decide during the weekend whether to arrest Lee.

U.S. stock markets finished moderately lower. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 63.28 points, or 0.3 percent, to 19,891. The average had briefly been down more than 183 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 4.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,270.44. The Nasdaq composite fell 16.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,547.49.

Benchmark crude oil rose 5 cents at $53.06 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 76 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $53.01 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, also added 5 cents, to $56.07 a barrel.

The dollar turned lower, trading at 114.69 yen from 114.86 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.0634 from $1.0611.