Asia stock markets uneven after China's 2Q growth data

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Shanghai stocks lost ground on Wednesday despite China's better-than-expected economic growth in the second quarter, with investors still wary after a big slide in Chinese markets. Other Asian benchmarks gained.

KEEPING SCORE: Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.9 percent to 3,813.09 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.5 percent to 24,986.90. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.4 percent to 20,469.61 and South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.3 percent to 2,065.21. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to 5,628.30. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

CHINA DATA: China's economy expanded 7 percent in the April-June quarter, the slowest quarterly pace since the 2008 financial crisis but slightly above forecasts, suggesting stimulus measures are taking hold. Retail sales expanded in June at a slightly faster rate than May while factory output also improved from the previous month. The data came as the ruling Communist Party is struggling to reverse a stock market plunge that began early June and threatens to disrupt its economic reform plans.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "There are good reasons to think that the latest figures are mirroring a genuine stabilization of conditions on the ground" in China, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

GREECE BAILOUT: Greece could again roil markets after the International Monetary Fund, which is one of the country's creditors, criticized the terms of Europe's recently agreed bailout. The IMF says "Greece's debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far." At the same time, Greece's left-wing government faces mounting public anger as it rushes to meet demands from European creditors by pushing austerity measures through parliament.

US ECONOMY: Investors will turn their attention to the U.S. economy as Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, is scheduled to deliver the central bank's mid-year economic outlook to the House Financial Services Committee later in the day. Analysts are interested to see whether she would stress global growth risks, given the uncertainty in Europe and China's slowdown. Yellen recently reiterated that the Fed will hike U.S. interest rates this year for the first time since the global financial crisis.

WALL STREET: Stocks climbed broadly on Tuesday. The S&P 500 increased 9.35 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,108.95. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 75.90 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,053.58. The Nasdaq composite climbed 33.38 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,104.89.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 21 cents to $53.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 84 cents to close at $53.04 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 17 cents at $58.85 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 123.45 yen from 123.35 yen in the previous session. The euro was nearly unchanged at $1.101.