Asian markets were trading mostly higher on Tuesday but stock indices in Japan bucked the regional trend. Stocks in China and Australia inched higher while those in Hong Kong were flat. Markets in South Korea are up today after Monday's holiday. The market in Taiwan has surged by more than 2% while that in Singapore is static.
The MSCI-Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.1% to 112.44 as of 11:06 a.m. in Tokyo, after falling as much as 0.6%. About four stocks rose for every three that slipped. The index is headed for an 11% decline in May, its steepest monthly slide since October 2008.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average was down 0.35% while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was up ~0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was flat. China’s Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.3%. The Straits Times index in Singapore was flat while the Taiex in Taiwan advanced 2.2%.
There is speculation that China will take steps to boost growth in the world’s second-largest economy. China’s finance ministry said that it will allocate as much as 2 billion yuan ($317 million) every year to support purchases of energy-efficient cars.
Japan’s jobless rate unexpectedly rose and retail sales fell for a second month, underscoring concern that recovery in the world's third-largest economy will lose momentum in the face of a rising yen and Europe’s debt crisis.
Japan’s jobless rate climbed to 4.6% in April from 4.5% in March, the first increase in three months, the statistics bureau said today in Tokyo. The median estimate of economists was 4.5%.
Japanese retail sales rose 5.8% in April compared to a year ago, data released today showed. Economists had been expecting a 6.3% rise in retail sales. Retail sales fell 0.3% from March, the Trade Ministry reported. In March, retail sales rose 10.3%.
South Korean manufacturers’ confidence fell from a nine-month high. An index measuring expectations for June fell to 86 from 90 in May, the Bank of Korea said in Seoul today. A measure of expectations at non-manufacturing companies fell to 83 from 85.
The euro fell, set for the biggest monthly decline in eight months. The 17-nation currency was within 0.2% of the lowest since July 2010 after yield premiums on Spain’s debt over Germany’s rose to the most in 17 years.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sought help from European authorities to help fund a bailout of Bankia SA, the nation’s third-biggest lender.
Rajoy, repeating yesterday that he wouldn’t seek a European rescue for Spain’s banks, said that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should be able to recapitalize struggling lenders directly, bypassing national governments.
His government is considering using public-debt securities rather than cash to fund the 19 billion-euro ($24bn) bailout of Bankia.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars weakened against the majority of their counterparts.