Asian stocks lower despite positive economic data from Japan


Shutterstock photo - - Asian stocks were lower on Friday with the Nikkei also down in thin trading despite robust economic data coming from Japan.

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry reported on Friday that industrial production in January rose 4% against an expectation of 3%. In December it rose by 0.9%. Year-on-year retail sales rose 4.4% in January against a forecast of a 3.8% rise and the previous increase of 2.6%.

Japan's Statistics Bureau also reported on Friday that year-on-year Tokyo core CPI rose 0.9% in January against a forecast of 0.8% and a previous figure of 0.7%. Year-on-year Tokyo CPI also rose 1.1% in comparison to 0.7% rise a year earlier.

Japan also said that year-on-year household spending rose by 1.1% against a forecast of a 0.2% rise and a 0.7% rise a year earlier.

Electronics and camera maker Nikon rose 0.9% while Nabtesco was up 1.7% during Friday trading.

Japan's Nikkei fell 0.51%, while the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.95% on currency turmoil and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined 0.23%.

Meanwhile on Thursday U.S. stocks climbed higher after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen suggested harsh winter weather may have been the reason behind a string of disappointing economic indicators this year.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.46%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.49%, while the Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.63%.

Recent manufacturing, unemployment and other economic indicators have come in short of Wall Street expectations, leaving investors unclear if recovery has hit a soft patch or if a string of winter storms has put commerce temporarily on hold.

Speaking before the Senate banking committee, Yellen told lawmakers it was hard to say how much the recent soft data was due to rough winter weather and added that the bank would remain attentive to signals on whether the recovery is progressing in line with expectations.

Stock market investors concluded that monetary authorities do believe winter storms have bruised economic indicators somewhat, and that when spring arrives in a matter of weeks, recovery will pick up and improve corporate fundamentals in the process.

Elsewhere, the Labor Department said the number of people filing for initial jobless benefits rose by 14,000 to 348,000 from the previous week's total of 334,000. Analysts had expected an increase of just 1,000.

Also on Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that U.S. durable goods orders declined by a seasonally adjusted 1% last month, less than expectations for a 1.5% drop.

Core durable goods orders, excluding volatile transportation items, rose 1.1% in January, the largest increase since May, confounding forecasts for a 0.3% decline.

On Friday, the U.S. is to released revised data on fourth-quarter growth, a report on manufacturing activity in the Chicago region, revised data on consumer sentiment and private-sector data on pending home sales. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
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