Chinese shares fall as a decline in profits at industrial firms reignite worries
Tokyo - AFP
Asian markets broadly fell Monday as a decline in profits at China's industrial firms reignited worries about the world's number two economy, but bargain-buying helped Tokyo snap a five-day losing streak.
Industrial profits declined 1.4 percent to 672.1 billion yuan ($104 billion) in November, according to data released on Sunday by China's National Bureau of Statistics.
"We see weakness across industries, with few signs of improvement," Steve Wang, chief China economist at Reorient Financial Markets in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News.
The fresh figures weighed on mainland markets with Shanghai down 2.59 percent and Shenzhen off 2.18 percent by the close.
Shares in China Telecom dropped as much as three percent after news its head was under investigation for "severe disciplinary violations", the latest high-profile target in a corruption crackdown.
Most other regional markets were also in the red.
Seoul closed down 1.34 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 1.08 percent lower in afternoon trade, Taiwan slipped 0.06 percent and Singapore fell 0.12 percent.
However, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.56 percent by the close as bargain-buying and a weaker yen lifted the market.
Sydney and Wellington were closed for a public holiday.
On currency markets the dollar rose to 120.53 yen from 120.19 Friday in Tokyo, as investors bought back the US currency after it hit a two-month low against the Japanese unit last week.
A weak yen is a plus for Japanese exporters, as it boosts their repatriated profits and competitiveness overseas.
Dealers largely ignored a 1.0 percent decline in Japan's factory output in November -- after two months of gains -- announced by the government shortly before Tokyo opened Monday morning.
The disappointing data comes after separate figures last week showed still-weak inflation and household spending, as the world's number three economy struggles to stage a recovery.
Monday's decline in Japanese factory output was worse than market expectations for an 0.4 percent contraction.
Yusuke Shimoda, an economist at Japan Research Institute, warned that the weak Japanese data reflected weakness in China's economy -- a key driver of global growth.
"One big concern is a slowdown in the Chinese economy, which is pressuring Japanese companies," he told AFP.
- Key figures around 0700 GMT -
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.56 percent at 18,873.35 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.08 percent at 21,898.89 (afternoon trade)
Sydney - S&P/ASX200: closed Monday for public holidays
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0961 from $1.0965 Friday in Tokyo
Dollar/yen: UP to 120.53 yen from 120.19 yen Friday in Tokyo