Asian stock markets meander as China profit data disappoints

TOKYO – Asian shares meandered Thursday as data showed a drop in Chinese industrial profits, but expectations for further stimulus moves from China and Europe helped to limit losses.

KEEPING SCORE: South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3 per cent to 1,987.13 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged at 5,398.30. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.5 per cent to 23,995.28 and Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 0.7 per cent to 17,263.24. China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.5 per cent to 2,617.13. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

CHINA STIMULUS: Mainland Chinese investors appeared to shrug off data showing weaker industrial profits. Interest rate cuts Friday by the Chinese central bank raised hopes Beijing will do more to prevent growth from dropping below 7 per cent.

THE QUOTE: “Equities continue to consolidate recent gains in Asia with some optimism we’ll see further action from key central banks,” said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia. “While Fed policy expectation continues to pop up every time U.S. data shows signs of faltering, the spotlight at the moment certainly seems to be on the ECB and the PBoC.”

WALL STREET: The U.S. stock market eked out another record close on Wednesday ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, but gains were capped by data showing only modest growth in U.S. consumer spending and a sharp decline in plans for business investment. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 12.81 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 17,827.75. Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.80 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,072.83. The index has now closed at an all-time high on 47 occasions this year.

ENERGY: Oil prices slid further ahead of OPEC’s Thursday meeting. Benchmark crude was down 86 cents to $72.84 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It closed Wednesday at $73.69, down 40 cents from the day before. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell $1.19 cents to $76.54 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged lower to 117.37 yen from 117.63 yen late Wednesday. The euro was virtually flat at $1.2506, compared with $1.2207.