Asia stocks mixed ahead of China growth report

Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday as jitters about China's economy overshadowed a perk from strong U.S. data and earnings.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.2 percent at 22,754.69 as a drop in China's money supply unnerved investors ahead of first quarter economic growth figures due Wednesday. China's Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.4 percent to 2,102.79.

China's leaders are targeting growth of 7.5 percent this year for the world's second-biggest economy. But exports and imports have been weak in the first quarter, suggesting the economy is slowing and raising the risk of job's losses. China's growth of 7.7 percent last year tied 2012 for the slowest since 1999.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi was down 0.2 percent to 1,993.14 while Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent to close at 13,996.81.

The dollar holding close to 102 yen levels also helped underpin Tokyo share prices. A weak yen is a plus for many Japanese companies because they rely on exports.

Stock markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6 percent to 5,388.20. India's Sensex lost 0.9 percent to 22,425.33.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 gained 0.8 percent to close Monday at 1,830.61. The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.9 percent to 16,173.24 and the Nasdaq rose or 0.6 percent to 4,022.69.

Global stock markets suffered last week over concerns that technology stocks are overvalued and nervousness about the crisis in the Ukraine but recouped some of those losses Monday on strong economic and corporate news from the U.S.

A 1.1 percent rise in U.S. retail sales in March, the biggest in 18 months, boosted sentiment, as did better-than-expected earnings from Citigroup.

Investors had earlier been cautious, selling off stocks in Europe, on concern of a flare-up in Ukraine's crisis.

Ukrainian and Western officials have accused Moscow of instigating a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine. That raised the prospect of more sanctions against Russia, possibly affecting the valuable energy trade.

The dollar was trading at 101.88 yen, inching up from 101.83 late Monday. The euro fell to $1.3817 from $1.3823.

Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was down 78 cents at $103.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 31 cents Monday to settle at $104.05.

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