Asian markets rose on Friday as record Chinese economic growth reaffirmed the country’s strong recovery, while traders tracked a Wall Street surge fuelled by blockbuster reports on US consumer spending and jobless claims.
Officials in Beijing said the world’s second-biggest economy expanded 18.3% in the first quarter, boosted by a sharper-than-expected increase in retail sales that gave hope the country’s vast army of consumers are again dipping into their pockets.
The economic growth figure was the highest since records began three decades ago, enhanced by its chronically weak comparison figure from last year, though the reading was slightly below forecasts in an AFP survey.
Analysts also pointed out that the quarter-on-quarter growth was below estimates.
“China’s growth will trend lower going forward,” said OANDA’s Edward Moya, though he did say it “will likely prevent policymakers from tightening too quickly”. Asian markets struggled in early trade but picked up the pace as the day moved on.
Shanghai led gains with Hong Kong, while Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Mumbai, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and Wellington were also well up. Manila and Jakarta edged down. The tepid performance at the end of the week came despite a strong lead from Wall Street, where the Dow ended above 34,000 for the first time and the S&P 500 clocked yet another record.
The rally in New York came on the back of figures showing US jobless claims came in at their lowest level since the pandemic began, while retail sales soared 9.8% on-month in March as Americans began spending their $1,400 stimulus handouts, helped by the roll-out of vaccines. “US consumers wasted little time stuffing stimulus checks into starving retailer cash registers with stocks surging to cash register rings across the United States as consumers are made willing and able to spend, thanks to the US’s speedy vaccine rollout,” said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.1% to 29,683.37 points; Hong Kong — Hang Seng Index ended up 0.6% to 28,969.71 points and Shanghai — Composite closed up 0.8% to 3,426.62 points yesterday.
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