Asia stocks up modestly as China GDP figures match expectations

19 Jan, 2016 10:10 am

TOKYO – Asian stocks rose modestly and crude oil prices nudged up on Tuesday after Chinese GDP figures were mostly in line with expectations.

China’s economy grew 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the data showed, the slowest growth since 2009. Industrial output in December rose 5.9 percent from a year earlier, compared with forecasts for a 6.0 percent increase. ECONCN

The lack of negative surprises offered the market a slight reprieve following a tumultuous start to 2016 as concerns about China’s economic health weighed heavily on global growth prospects.

“I think that at least the biggest fears about the real economy, fears that came to the surface during the stock market rout…I think those biggest fears were overblown,” said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong.

“We don’t see signs of an abrupt slowdown, or something getting worse than we had expected say six weeks ago.”

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.2 percent after earlier touching its lowest level since October 2011.

Australian shares added 0.8 percent, while Tokyo’s Nikkei .N225 dropped 0.3 percent.

Volatile Shanghai shares .SSEC rose 0.2 percent, to pull away from a 13-month low on Monday.

In commodities, Brent crude LCOc1 was up 0.9 percent at $28.81 a barrel, pulling away from a 13-year low of $27.67 hit on Monday on worries about the return of additional Iranian crude to an already oversupplied market.

International sanctions on Tehran were lifted over the weekend, removing an obstacle to one of the world’s biggest oil producing nations.

US markets were closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Day.

The Australian dollar, often used as a proxy for China-related trades, stood little changed at $0.6859 AUD=D4. The Aussie fell to a seven-year low of $0.6827 last week amid a rout in commodity-linked currencies.

The dollar nudged up 0.2 percent to 117.55 yen JPY= after slipping last week to a 4-1/2-month low of 116.51. The euro was flat at $1.0894 EUR= after dipping about 0.2 percent on Monday. -Reuters

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