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19 Feb 2021 | 10:47

Asia report: Markets mixed as deflation continues in Japan

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished in a mixed state on Friday, as investors digested fresh data out of Japan and Australia, while oil prices fell. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.72% at 30,017.92, as the yen weakened 0.32% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.35.

Technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was up 0.1%, while among the benchmark's other major components, automation specialist Fanuc was down 4.15% and fashion firm Fast Retailing lost 2.42%.

The broader Topix index was off 0.67% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,928.95.

Core consumer prices were down 0.6% year-on-year in January, according to data released by Japan's Bureau of Statistics during the day.

It marked the sixth month in a row of year-on-year declines for the measure.

"Consumer prices in Japan stayed in deflationary territory, while flash estimates showed that Japan's composite output index edged up in February to 47.6 from 47.1 but still below the 50-neutral mark," noted SquaredFinancial chief market analyst Rony Nehme.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was ahead 0.57% at 3,696.17, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was up 0.75% at 2,468.66.

South Korea's Kospi was 0.68% firmer at 3,107.62, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong rose 0.16% to 30,644.73.

The blue-chip technology stocks were stronger in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 0.61% and SK Hynix surging 5.56%.

Oil prices were lower as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude last down 1.13% at $63.21 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate losing 2.51% to $59.00.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.34% to 6,793.80, as fresh data out of Canberra showed retail sales rising 0.6% on a seasonally-adjusted basis in the country.

The official reading from the Bureau of Statistics was lower than the 2% improvement anticipated by economists polled by Reuters.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was off 0.67% at 12,548.63, as rising bond yields in Wellington dragged equities lower.

The 10-year 'Kiwi Bond' government bond yield was now above 1.5%, having started 2021 at 1%.

Both of the down under dollars were weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.86% at AUD 1.2760, and the Kiwi retreating 0.58% to NZD 1.3768.
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