Asian stock markets meandered in holiday-thinned trading Monday after Chinese trade figures suggested domestic demand is lackluster.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.2 percent to 15,682.18 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.5 percent to 25,113.73. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.5 percent to 5,570.50. Stock benchmarks rose in Indonesia and the Philippines while Singapore fell. Markets in China, South Korea and Taiwan were shut for public holidays.
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CHINA TRADE: Exports from the world's No. 2 economy rose 9.4 percent in August from a year earlier but imports dropped 2.4 percent, which indicates slack domestic demand. Some economists say additional stimulus is needed to prevent China's growth rate from waning after mini-stimulus measure helped it tick up to 7.5 percent in the second quarter.
ALI-BUSTER: China's Alibaba Group is seeking to raise up to $24.3 billion from its upcoming share sale, which would be the largest initial public offering ever. The e-commerce company and its early investors are hoping to sell up to 368 million shares for $60 to $66 apiece, according to a regulatory filing late Friday that sets the stage for Alibaba Group Ltd. to make its long-awaited debut on the New York Stock Exchange later this month.
THE QUOTE: "We see a rather muted week of data, with markets likely to take direction from geopolitical factors like the cease-fire in Ukraine at the forefront. Some other key events to look out for include the launch of the iPhone 6 and a new category of wearables, and developments out of Alibaba's IPO," said CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.
WALL STREET: U.S. markets shrugged off a smaller-than-expected increase in employment for August. Geopolitical trends such as a cease-fire agreement between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists helped lift the S&P 500 index to a fresh record of 2,007.71 on Friday, the 33rd record high so far this year. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.4 percent, to 17,137.36.
CURRENCIES: The euro remained firm at $1.2954 versus its Friday close of $1.2952. The euro has rebounded from its recent slump which was triggered when the European Central Bank last week surprised markets by cutting interest rates and announcing a new stimulus program. The U.S. dollar, which traded last week near six-year highs, was nearly flat at 105.07 yen compared with 105.10 yen on Friday.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil for October delivery was down 8 cents to $93.21 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.16, or 1.2 percent, to $93.29 a barrel in New York on Friday after falling $1.09 on Thursday as the Ukraine cease-fire eased supply fears.