Asia stocks mostly up after China data, eyes on Fed


HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday after data showed China s economy grew more than expected in the second quarter, although Shanghai and Hong Kong sank on fears the news will likely put off any fresh growth-boosting measures.

Investors are also awaiting testimony later in the day from US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen on the bank s plans for hiking interest rates.

Tokyo edged up 0.41 percent by lunch, Sydney gained 0.77 percent and Seoul was 0.33 percent higher, while Singapore added 0.49 percent and Wellington put on 0.72 percent.

But Shanghai sank 2.99 percent and Hong Kong lost 0.44 percent.

China s National Bureau of Statistics said the world s number two economy expanded 7.0 percent year on year in April-June, the same as the previous three months and better than the median forecast of 6.9 percent in an AFP survey of 14 economists.

The data follow a slew of disappointing results that have led to a series of measures — including four interest rate cuts since November — to shore up stumbling growth.

But Bernard Aw, a Singapore-based strategist at IG Asia, told Bloomberg News: “The GDP numbers are really good. The better-than- expected GDP reading suggested that Beijing may take its foot off the pedal on more stimulus measures for the time being. This will affect sentiment in the stock market.”

Despite the losses in Shanghai, confidence is slowly returning after the massive losses suffered since hitting a June 12 peak. A painful stock sell-off that saw a more than 30 percent fall and spread to other markets was only halted Thursday after authorities unveiled a raft of strict measures to prevent a crash.

Dealers will be closely following Yellen s twice-yearly appearance at Congress to find more clues about monetary policy, with expectations for an interest rate hike by September.

The Fed boss has in the past said she sees rates normalising by the end of the year, and the case for such a move increased Monday with Greece s bailout reform deal that keeps it in the eurozone.

Fed policymakers has been concerned about announcing a hike while there was the possibility of a Greek euro exit, which would hit the global economy.

On Wall Street, the Dow climbed 0.42 percent, the S&P 500 advanced 0.45 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 0.66 percent.

With the likelihood of a rise growing the dollar climbed to 123.44 yen in Tokyo from 123.38 yen in New York.

The euro stood at $1.0997 compared with $1.1008, while it was also at 135.73 yen against 135.82 yen in US trade.



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