Asia markets higher; China November industrial profits jump 14.5%

Asian shares were moderately higher on Tuesday amid low-volume holiday trading after China posted strong growth in November industrial profits, though investors awaited a board meeting for Japan’s Toshiba after shares dropped sharply.

Chinese shares gained in early trade, with the Shanghai composite up 0.15 percent and the Shenzhen composite up 0.212 percent.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said that profits earned by large industrial firms rose 14.5 percent in November from a year earlier, and a big jump from a 9.8 percent increase in October, on the back of a strong rebound in raw material prices and a low base last year, the statistics bureau said.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 percent, shrugging off economic data that showed the Japanese economy still has some way to go before meeting the Bank of Japan’s 2 percent inflation target.

Shares of Toshiba plunged 14.08 percent to 380.5 yen per share, after it opened untraded due to heavy sell orders. The electronics giant expects to book a one-off loss of about 100 billion yen ($850 million) on a U.S. nuclear power acquisition made by its Westinghouse operation last year, Nikkei business daily reported. Toshiba said it would hold a board meeting on the issue later today.

Japan’s core consumer price index (CPI) slipped 0.4 percent year-on-year in November, compared to the market consensus of a 0.3 percent dip, while November household spending also fell 1.5 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, the jobs-to-applicants ratio rose to 1.41 from 1.4 in October, its highest level since July 1991.

In South Korea, the Kospi added 0.18 percent.

A Bank of Korea survey released Monday showed consumer sentiment plunged to its worst level in more than seven and a half years in December, amid a political scandal and volatile financial markets.

Markets in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand are shut for public holidays.

In other news, security forces remain on high alert amid the festive period. On Christmas Day, the Australian police said they prevented attacks in Melbourne, while the Indonesian police killed two suspected Islamist militants in a shootout, as part of a series of raids aimed at preventing planned attacks. Earlier last week, the Indonesian anti-terrorism police force killed three suspects in Jakarta, foiling a planned suicide bombing.

Over in the U.S. markets had closed mostly flat last Friday, as the Dow Jones industrial average once again failed to hit the psychological level of 20,000. The blue-chips index rose just 0.07 percent to finish at 19,933.81. The S&P 500 index was up 0.13 percent at 2,263.79 and the Nasdaq closed up 0.28 percent at 5,462.

In the currency markets, the dollar index traded at 103.01, compared to levels as high as 103.25 last week. Against the greenback, the yen fetched 117.21, while the Australian dollar remained under pressure at $0.7179, at its lowest since May.

The South Korean won weakened against the dollar, at 1,204.89, compared to levels as low as 1,187.27.

U.S. crude futures were up 0.17 percent at $53.11 a barrel during Asian trade on Tuesday, while Brent futures slipped 0.04 percent at $55.14.

Source: CNBC