Asian stocks open mixed; ASX down 0.6%, Nikkei flat – Moneycontrol.com

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Asian markets were mostly higher on Tuesday as traders digested better-than-expected industrial output data from Japan and worse-than-expected data from South Korea.

The Nikkei 225 was up 0.49 percent after trading flat earlier in the session, while in South Korea, the Kospi climbed 0.39 percent.

Australia’s ASX 200 was 0.42 percent lower, weighed by its energy subindex, which shed 1.35 percent, but that follows a 5.6 percent gain over the past four sessions.

Chinese mainland markets were performing better, with the Shanghai Composite up 2.12 percent and the Shenzhen composite up 2.418 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was 0.94 percent higher.

Japan’s industrial output in April saw a 0.3 percent increase from March, beating expectations for a 1.5 percent fall. The better-than-expected data suggested that production was holding up despite weaker exports and impact from the Kumamoto earthquakes, Reuters reported.

Japan’s April household spending fell 0.4 percent year-on-year, the second month of declines, but still came in better than expected, while unemployment rate held steady at 3.2 percent.

After the data, the US dollar/ Japanese yen pair fell as low as 110.77 from levels around 111 before the data. But it recovered to trade at 111.06 at 10:42 a.m. SIN/HK. A weaker yen is generally seen as a positive for Japanese stocks.

Shares of LG Electronics were up 1.26 percent. Daiwa Capital Markets initiated coverage of the stock at “Outperform,” saying the company, a consumer electronics giant, will see strong earnings growth driven by its “market-leader status in OLED TVs” as well as its appliance and vehicle-components businesses.

Virgin Australia shares surged 5.36 percent after it announced on Tuesday that China’s HNA Aviation would buy a 13 percent stake in the Australian airline for AUSD 159 million (USD 114 million). The Australia-China airline alliance is to capitalize on the growing tourism market between the two countries, Reuters reported.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released data showing Australia’s first-quarter current account deficit was AUSD 20.8 billion, compared with Reuters forecasts of the deficit at AUSD 19.5 billion.

The Australian dollar strengthened against the greenback to USD 0.7229 as of 10:04 a.m. HK/SIN.

South Korea saw industrial activity in April slow by 1.3 percent on-month, the second straight month of declines, coming in worse than a Reuters forecast for a 0.2 percent decline. The service sector output rose by 0.5 percent in the same period.

Meanwhile, the dollar, which had firmed on the back of Federal Reserve rate hike expectations, lost steam on Tuesday, trading against a basket of currencies at 95.709 early Tuesday, after climbing as high as 95.968 in Monday’s session.

India is set to announce its full-year gross domestic product growth.

Brent crude futures were trading at USD 49.67 a barrel, down from the settlement price at USD 49.76 a barrel, while Nymex crude had no settlement but it traded at USD 49.51 a barrel, up 18 cents at 10:05 a.m. HK/SIN time. US were shut on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.