Asian Shares: Global Markets Start the Week Higher

By Ese ErherieneFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Global stocks were broadly higher Monday, with investors in Asia gearing up for an eventful week.

Among other events, investors will be focused on the start of formal Brexit negotiations and a decision on whether to include China's domestically traded A-shares in MSCI's emerging-market index, which is widely followed.

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Financial markets were unshaken by initial reports of a "major incident" in London involving a van being driven into a crowd of people, resulting in casualties and one arrest. The pound sterling was largely flat against the U.S. dollar.

The Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.6% in afternoon trade, with a softer yen aiding a move back above 20000 points. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3%, South Korea's Kospi added 0.4% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.9%.

"Trailing in the glow of buoyant U.S. markets, Asian bourses [found] moderate gains to start the week," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Group. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 0.1%, while the S&P 500 also recorded slight gains.

In Japan, economists had expected a modest trade surplus for May. Instead, the country reported its first deficit since January. A Finance Ministry official noted it wasn't uncommon for Japan to post a deficit in May because many manufacturers shut down factories during the "Golden Week" holidays, which limits exports.

Still, local stocks shrugged off the report as the exports data in Japan "continue to reinforce the growth story for Japan's economy," said Ms. Pan.

Japan's exports jumped 14.9% for May from a year earlier, the biggest rise since January 2015, marking the sixth consecutive month of increases, the government said Monday. However, the figure came in lower than an 18.2% increase expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Shares of Japanese auto-parts maker Takata were ask-only, meaning no shares have traded because sell orders have overwhelmed buys. The company was in the final stages of preparing to file for bankruptcy protection to address mounting liabilities from its rupture-prone air bags. The company's shares are down 44% this year.

In China, shares started the week higher, helped by still-resilient housing prices and the central bank's continued liquidity injections. Home prices in China rose 9.7% from a year earlier in May, versus April's 9.9% gain. Meanwhile, the People's Bank of China pumped a further 110 billion yuan ($16.2 billion) into money markets to boost liquidity, following Friday's 250 billion yuan injection. Stock gains were across the board but led by property, consumer goods and defense sectors.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7% in the morning trading session, while the Shenzhen Composite added 0.4%.

Across the region, technology stocks rebounded after logging losses in several sessions last week. The Kospi IT subindex was 1.5% higher, while Taiwan's Taiex Technology Index added 0.7%.

In currencies, the yen was down 0.2% against the U.S. dollar, easing pressure on exporter stocks by making it cheaper for companies to ship their goods around the world. Among individual stocks, Mitsubishi Motors rose 1.5% and Sony added 3.4%.

In the commodities market, oil prices pulled back in Asia after ending in positive territory last week. July Nymex was down 0.3% at $44.61 a barrel, while August Brent fell 0.3% to $47.24.

Data out Friday afternoon in the U.S. showed another week of rising active U.S. oil-drilling rigs, but some traders say at this level, prices may be close to a floor.

"Questions on the U.S. shale's ability to keep profitable are being asked," after oil earlier hit its lowest point since November, said Stuart Ive, a client manager at OM Financial.

Jenny W. Hsu, Kosaku Narioka, Yoko Kubota and Shen Hong contributed to this article.

Write to Ese Erheriene at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 19, 2017 01:16 ET (05:16 GMT)