Asia Markets Mixed

Asia markets traded mixed on Thursday, with some Australian retailers faltering after lower-than-expected sales data showed consumers Down Under were cutting back.

The Nikkei 225 index eked up 1.9 points to 20,628.56

Several markets, including South Korea, Hong Kong and China, remain shut this week for public holidays.

Australia’s retail turnover fell 0.6% in August, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed, coming in short of a poll forecasting a rise of 0.3%. That was the worst decline in sales since early 2013

There were declines in food retailing, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, household goods and clothing, footwear and personal accessories. Sectors that saw an increase included department stores.

July's retail sales figure was also revised down to 0.2% fall.

Australian retail stocks were mixed following the data, with Myer shares closing down 1.3%, Harvey Norman off 0.5% and JB Hi-Fidown 0.7%.

Shares of of Metcash rose 1.6%, Wesfarmers added 0.3% and Woolworths gained 0.5%.

Shares of the so-called Big Four banks were lower: ANZ was down 0.5% Commonwealth Bank was down 0.1%, Westpac was off by 0.4%, and National Australia Bank declined 0.5%

On a more positive note Down Under, Australian trade recorded a seasonally adjusted surplus of 989 million Australian dollars ($774.81 million U.S.) in August, topping a market forecast of A$875 million.

The Australian dollar slipped from as high as $0.7865 to as low as $0.7816 following the data release, but it then recovered slightly. Late afternoon local time, the Aussie traded at $0.7824 U.S.

Among other currency majors, the Japanese yen traded at 112.8 to the U.S. dollar, slipping from an earlier high of 112.68.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index returned from holiday to gain 48.92 points, or 0.5%, to 10,518.27

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index gained 25.19 points, or 0.8%, to 3,261.84

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 25.01 points, or 0.3%, to 7,974.70

In Australia, the ASX 200 slid 0.29 points to 5,651.77