HONG KONG: Asian shares were mixed Thursday following a pick-up on Wall Street while China released data showing inflation remained tepid, fuelling hopes the government will announce fresh stimulus measures.
The dollar held on to most of the gains against the yen in New York, sitting at a six-year high, while the pound rallied on easing concerns about Scotland’s independence vote and hawkish comments from the Bank of England on interest rates.
Tokyo added 0.47 percent, Hong Kong dipped 0.13 percent and Shanghai put on 0.33 percent, while Sydney was off 0.10 percent and Seoul shed 0.20 percent on its first day of trade this week after a public holiday.
China said inflation hit 2.0 percent in August, a four-month low and well below the government’s 3.5 percent annual target. It also missed the median estimate of 2.2 percent in a survey of 15 economists by the Wall Street Journal.
The figures come at a time of concern over China’s economy as the effects of steps taken earlier this year to prop up slowing growth have waned and worries intensify over the potential for a bust in the property sector.
However, they will give Beijing breathing space to add to its stimulus measures as it tries to give a jolt to growth.
Regional markets were also helped by bargain buying after the previous day’s losses, while dealers were given a positive lead from Wall Street.
The Dow added 0.32 percent and the S&P 500 tacked on 0.36 percent, while the Nasdaq rose 0.75 percent.
The positive outlook helped the dollar push towards the 107 yen mark, levels it has not seen since September 2008 during the financial crisis.
In early Tokyo trade the dollar stood at 106.76 yen, down from 106.85 yen in New York but still well up from 106.64 yen earlier Wednesday.
The euro bought $1.2921 and 137.98 yen, compared with $1.2916 and 138.02 yen in New York.
Meanwhile, the pound was looking healthier on Thursday, buying $1.6190, well up from the 10-month low of $1.6078 touched earlier this week.
The unit sank in response to an opinion poll on the upcoming Scottish independence referendum showing for the first time a majority people in favour of leaving the United Kingdom.
However, a new survey showed the “No” to independence campaign had restored its lead, soothing concerns about the economic impact of Britain fragmenting.
Also lending support were comments from Bank of England chief Mark Carney suggesting it could hike interest rates soon as soon as early 2015, citing the country’s solid economic recovery.
“You can expect interest rates to begin to increase,” Carney said, adding that the bank’s forecasts show that hiking rates by the spring of 2015 would allow it to meet its jobs growth and inflation targets.
On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery rose 10 cents to $91.77 while Brent crude for October gained eight cents to $98.12.
Gold was at $1,248.71 an ounce, against $1,253.47 late Wednesday.