Asia Mixed as Investor Confidence Dips

Asia Pacific markets were mixed Monday afternoon, as investor confidence tempered midway, after Friday’s stronger-than-expected China data had improved risk sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 vaulted 298.55 points, or 1.4%, 22,169.11.

The Japanese yen, considered a safe-haven currency, traded at 111.91 to the U.S. dollar, strengthening from an earlier level around 112.09

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index ditched 99.04 points, or 0.3%, to 29,810.72

Korean markets moved doggedly forward, Shares of Asiana Airlines and its affiliates soared. Asiana Airlines shares were up 30%. Affiliates Air Busan picked up 29.9%, and Asiana IDT rose 29.8%

The top shareholder of Asiana Airlines, Kumho Industrial, said on Monday it would sell its entire stake in the debt-ridden carrier to keep it afloat. That followed weeks of financial uncertainty after the carrier failed to win auditors’ sign-off on its 2018 financial statements, which triggered warnings of credit ratings downgrades

In Australia, most sectors were lower while the energy sub-index added 0.5% and the heavily weighted financial sector rose 0.4%

The Australian dollar traded slightly lower at $0.7166 U.S.

CHINA

The CSI 300 in China lost 13.1 points, or 0.3%, to 3,975.52

Customs data showed China’s March exports were higher than expected: Dollar-denominated exports rose 14.2% on-year, topping prediction of a 7.3% gain. Still, imports fell short of expectations, indicating domestic demand in the world’s second-largest economy remained weak.

Investors will look for further signs of recovery in the Chinese economy, and its implication of global growth outlook. Last week, the International Monetary Fund again slashed its global economic growth forecast for 2019, citing risks such as increasing trade tensions and tighter monetary policy by the U.S. central bank.

Experts also say encouraging developments in the U.S.-China trade negotiations also added to the positive sentiment.

Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington and Beijing are making progress on a trade deal, which includes agreeing on an enforcement mechanism. Still, Mnuchin declined to say if the U.S. will use tariffs as an enforcement tool.

In other markets

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index let go of 6.12 points, or 0.2%, to 3,325.86

Korea’s Kospi Index inched up 9.43 points, or 0.4%, to 2,242.88

The Taiex Index in Taiwan regained 70.3 points, or 0.7%, to 10,875.60

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 78.01 points, or 0.8%, to 9,846.35

In Australia, the ASX 200 eked up 0.11 points to 6,251.44