China Markets Buoyed by Optimism Over Growth Outlook

TOKYO (AP) -
People shelter from the rain in front of an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Chinese share benchmarks rose Monday on optimism about the economic outlook after the annual session of the National People’s Congress opened in Beijing. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index drooped following North Korea’s launch of missiles into seas near Japan.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index fell 0.4 percent to 19,385.15. The Kospi in South Korea was little changed, gaining 0.1 percent to 2,080.15. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.3 percent to 23,621.65 and the Shanghai Composite index edged 0.4 percent higher to 3,230.10. Australia’s S&P ASX/200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,746.50. Shares in Taiwan rose while markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.

In a speech to the national legislature, Premier Li Keqiang, China’s top economic official, trimmed the country’s growth target to 6.5 percent and warned of dangers from global pressure for trade controls as Beijing tries to build a consumer-driven economy and reduce reliance on exports and investment. Li promised more steps to cut surplus steel production that is straining trade relations with Washington and Europe and pledged equal treatment for foreign companies. “As in previous years, maintaining economic and social stability appears to be a prime objective of the government in 2017. Economic and social stability are positive for China’s credit profile if they are achieved in a sustainable manner,” said Marie Diron, an associate managing director at Moody’s Investor Service, in a commentary.

“Asian markets look set for mixed returns in the day with a lack of leads from the U.S. and a dearth of data on Monday. Early movers in the region had, however, been experiencing some stress from the news of ballistic missiles fired by North Korea,” said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore.