Asia shares edge higher as markets await US economic data

AP News
Posted: Aug 14, 2016 10:53 PM

TOKYO (AP) — Shares were mostly higher Monday in Asia, following a record-setting week on Wall Street, though investors remained cautious ahead of the release of U.S. housing, inflation and manufacturing data.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was flat at 16,920.71 after the government reported lower than expected economic growth data. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.4 percent to 22,861.87 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 5,542.10. The Shanghai Composite index advanced 1 percent to 3,080.11 and markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

JAPAN STAGNATES: Japan's economy grew at a lower-than-forecast 0.2 percent pace in the April-June quarter, as private demand and exports remained weak. On a quarterly basis, growth for the world's third-largest economy was flat, adding to pressure on the Bank of Japan to take further action to stimulate slack corporate and consumer spending.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "It's housing, CPI and manufacturing week. Markets are generally bullish on all fronts," a DBS commentary said of the U.S. week-to-come. "Manufacturing is expected to grow — just — for a second month in a row and a fifth in seven. It's not gangbusters stuff — on year growth remains at zero — but at least it won't be subtracting from the overall growth equation in the months ahead."

WALL STREET: After a record-setting week, shares were essentially flat on Friday as investors focused on recent company earnings and data showing U.S. retail sales were more sluggish than expected in July. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.2 percent to 18,576.47; the S&P 500 index lost 0.1 percent to 2,184.05 and the Nasdaq edged 0.1 percent higher to 5,232.89.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 41 cents to $44.90 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1, or 2.3 percent, to close at $44.49 a barrel in New York on Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 38 cents to $47.35 a barrel. It added 93 cents, or 2 percent, to close at $46.97 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: In currency markets, the dollar strengthened to 101.33 yen from 101.29 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1156 from $1.1165.