Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asian shares were mostly higher on Monday, the first trading day of the new quarter, as investors digested economic data out of Japan and Australia.
Traders are also likely to eye China-US news after US President Donald Trump told the Financial Times Sunday that the US will take unilateral action to eliminate nuclear threats from North Korea, unless China, one of the hermit state’s closest ally, intensifies pressure on Pyongyang, reports CNBC.
These comments come ahead of a two-day meeting this week in Florida with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 dipped 0.09 per cent, after its retail sales showed that February retail sales fell 0.1 per cent from January, while approvals to build new homes in February jumped 8.3 per cent, beating expectations of a 1 per cent drop.
Australian coal haulage group Aurizon Holdings said that damage from Cyclone Debbie in Queensland could mean some rail lines used by miners, including BHP Billiton, could be closed for repairs for more than a month. Shares of Aurizon Holdings were down 0.38 per cent, and BHP Billiton slipped 0.12 per cent.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.36 per cent.
The Bank of Japan’s Tankan quarterly survey showed that large Japanese manufacturers’ sentiment was up +12, lower compared to a Reuters poll forecast for +14.
Japan’s service sector saw sentiment improve, up +20.
“For the manufacturing sector, exports are growing especially to the US, China and Asia, but I guess people are a bit concerned about what’s happening in the US,” said Sayuri Shirai, professor at Keio University.
Across the Korean strait, the Kospi added 0.26 per cent.
South Korea’s first digital bank, K Bank, launched on Monday and will allow customers to open a bank account or apply for a loan on customer’s smartphones.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 0.48 per cent.
Huishan Dairy shares were suspended on Monday, after its chairman and controlling shareholder sold his shares during the company’s plunge last Friday which wiped off more than $4 billion off the market capitalization.
Over in stateside markets, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.31 per cent to close at 20,663.22, the S&P 500 finished down 0.23 per cent to 2,362.72 and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.04 per cent to finish at 5,911.74.
The dollar index was trading steady at 100.43 against a basket of currencies.
Against the greenback, the yen was at 111.18, down from levels as high as 112.19 seen last Friday, and the Australian dollar slipped to $0.7613 from $0.7633 earlier before the data.
In energy news, Iraq assured the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that it will fully comply with an agreement to cut supply, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said on Sunday in Baghdad.
But oil prices slipped on Monday on concerns of increasing shale output in the US which could weigh on the global oversupply.
Global benchmark Brent crude was down 0.17 per cent at $53.44 a barrel during early Asian trade, and US crude slipped 0.04 per cent to $50.58.
Mainland Chinese markets and Taiwanese markets will be shut today for public holiday.