Chinese Economy Grows as Expected, Asia Higher

Markets in Asia rose on Friday, as the release of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) numbers showed growth was in line with analyst expectations.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index gained 108.13 points, or 0.5%, to close out the week at 24,041.26, a 15-month high.

Some auto stocks soared. Mazda surged 5.8%, while Suzuki Motor bounced 4%. Subaru jumped 4.3%, and Mitsubishi Motor added 2.5%.

The safe-haven Japanese yen was at 110.21 against the U.S. dollar, weakening from the 109 level for most of the week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index added 173.38 points, or 0.6%, to 29,056.42.

Korean stocks hit a 15-month high, as the Bank of Korea on Friday kept its benchmark rate steady at 1.25%, as expected. That followed two cuts last year.

Australian markets jumped as major miners rose. Rio Tinto jumped 1.8%, Fortescue Metals surged 3.7%. BHP Group advanced around 1.2%.

The Australian dollar edged back up to 0.6905, after falling to the 0.68 level earlier.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 recovered 5.81 points, or 0.1%, to 4,154.85.

China’s GDP numbers which came in on Friday largely met analyst expectations. It announced its economy grew by 6.1% in 2019, meeting expectations even amid a trade dispute with the U.S. Its GDP grew 6.0% on-year in the fourth quarter of 2019.

That’s unchanged from the pace in the third quarter, which was believed to be its slowest GDP gain in at least 27½ years.

China’s growth has been hit by the trade dispute with the U.S., among other factors. But both giants signed a “phase one” deal this week, which included some tariff relief. Data earlier this week also showed that the country’s exports rose for the first time in five months in December, and its imports beat estimates.

Following the release of the GDP data, the Chinese yuan, which has been appreciating amid trade optimism, strengthened further. The offshore yuan last traded at 6.8628, as compared to 6.8751 seen earlier. The onshore yuan strengthened to below the 6.86 level where it was earlier, to last trade at 6.8577.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex recouped 23.36 points, or 0.2%, to 12,090.29

In Korea, the Kospi index gained 2.52 points, or 0.1%, to 2,250.57

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index inched up 3.03 points, or 0.1%, to 3,281.03

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 62.35 points, or 0.5%, to 11,800.21

In Australia, the ASX 200 improved 22.35 points, or 0.3%, to 7,064.13