HONG KONG — Asia stocks mostly held firm on Tuesday despite weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data, with investors expecting the world’s second-biggest economy to provide policy support.
Expectations that the dollar will soften also cushioned emerging markets, although investors were wary of crucial US government debt-ceiling negotiations, with a little more than two weeks to go before the government could run short of money to pay its bills.
Japan’s broad Topix gained 0.48% to 2,124.92, its highest since August 1990, helped by the robust outlook of its megabanks.
China’s industrial output grew 5.6% in April from a year earlier, accelerating from the 3.9% pace seen in March and marking the quickest growth since September 2022, data shown on Tuesday. But it was well below expectations for a 10.9% increase in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Retail sales also missed expectations, and, coming against a backdrop of China’s weak industrial, credit growth and import indicators, highlighted a wobbly post-COVID recovery.
With the softer readings, the market expects the policy response to try and shore up the economy and ensure that corporate confidence is back and growth is more sustainable, said Kerry Craig, a global market strategist with JPMorgan.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged 0.3% higher.
“The market is thinking that the Fed is done and the US dollar is going to come down a little bit so that supports the markets in Asia,” Craig said.
China’s benchmark stock index dropped 0.29%. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index extended its rally of the previous day, opening 0.53% higher, with the tech gauge climbing 1.19%.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei opened up 0.71% at 29,838.01.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index, however, lost 0.14% in early trading.
The dollar index fell 0.039%, with the Japanese yen strengthening 0.12% versus the US currency at 135.96 per dollar.
Benchmark 10-year notes fell 1.5 basis points to 3.4906% on Tuesday.
US crude rose 0.39% to $71.39 per barrel and Brent was at $75.55, up 0.43% on the day.
Spot gold dropped 0.2% to $2,016.75 an ounce.
(Reporting by Selena Li; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)