Asia Mixed on China Data

Asia markets struggled for direction on Monday, with investors reacting to the release of Chinese economic data, including first-quarter gross domestic product figures.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 removed 293.48 points, or 1.1%, to 26,799.71, as shares of Fast Retailing declined 1.25%.

The Japanese yen traded at 126.54 per dollar after weakening last week from below 125 against the greenback.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7364, lower as compared with levels above $0.747 seen last week.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 dropped 22.37 points, or 0.5%, to 4,166.38.

China saw faster-than-expected GDP growth in the first quarter, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed Monday. First-quarter GDP in China rose 4.8%, above expectations for a 4.4% year-over-year increase.

Retail sales in March, however, fell by a more-than-anticipated 3.5% as compared with a year earlier. That was against expectations for a 1.6% fall in a Reuters poll.

The data come as mainland China has for weeks been battling its worst COVID wave in two years. In particular, the major city of Shanghai has been among the areas most affected.

Monday’s moves in Asia markets came as investors digested the People’s Bank of China’s Friday announcement for a reserve requirement ratio cut on April 25. The RRR is the amount of funds banks need to hold in reserve.

On Friday, the Chinese central bank also unexpectedly held steady on a key interest rate, despite anticipation for more stimulus.

In other markets

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index fell 32.78 points, or 1%, to 3,303.07

In Korea, the Kospi index ducked 2.85 points, or 0.1%, to 2,693.21.

In Taiwan, the Taiex index forfeited 105.31 points, or 0.6%, to 16,898.87.

Markets in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand were shuttered for Easter Monday.