Asian stock markets mostly declined Friday after data showed that Chinese inflation jumped to a seven-month high in December while Japanese Nikkei surged on weaker yen.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.55 percent or 127.99 points to 23,226.32, Chinese Shanghai Composite plunged 1.44 percent or 32.79 points to 2,250.87 and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite declined 0.50 while Japanese benchmark Nikkei average surged 1.40 percent or 148.93 points to 10,801.57 and India’s BSE Sensex gained 0.46 percent.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that inflation in the world's second largest economy increased more than expected in December, indicating that the country’s inflationary pressures continue to increase, denting hopes that further policy easing is likely to boost growth.
Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 2.5 percent on annual basis in December, the highest level in seven months, compared to 2 percent increase in November and above the analysts’ expectation of 2.3 percent.
“China inflation data offered some positive signs but, given the market's rapid rally over the past month, it was probably used as an excuse to book profits. The slight pickup in inflation is still well below the 3.5 percent forecast by China, and may also reflect recovery in consumption. The data was unlikely to significantly dent an overall trend in improving risk appetite,” Hirokazu Yuihama, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo, told Reuters.
Japanese shares rallied as the yen accelerated its declines against the greenback and the euro, after Tokyo posted a larger-than-expected current account and trade deficits and on news that Japan's cabinet approved a massive economic stimulus package to revive the ailing economy.
In Tokyo, exporter companies’ shares rallied on back of weaker yen. Panasonic Corp. (NYSE:PC) surged 4.16 percent and Sharp Corp. climbed 12.63 percent while Olympus Corp. surged 4.41 percent.
Energy and mining companies’ shares led the declines in Hong Kong. CNOOC Ltd. (NYSE:CEO) declined 2.66 percent and Aluminum Corp of China Ltd. plunged 3.44 percent while Agile Property Holdings fell 3.10 percent.
South Korean shares declined after the Bank of Korea (BoK) held its key policy rates unchanged for a third straight month. Hyundai Motor Co declined 1.67 percent and Kia Motors Corp. plunged 2.19 percent while Samsung Electronics advanced 0.20 percent.