Asian stocks gain despite protectionism concerns

Asian markets were mostly in the money on Monday despite concerns over trade protectionism during the G7 meeting in Italy and North Korea’s latest missile launch at the weekend.

G7 finance ministers and central bankers highlighted the risks U.S. trade policies could pose to global growth during their meeting in Italy. This follows an earlier meeting in March this year, when G20 leaders failed to endorse free trade in their joint communique.

Meanwhile, concerns over North Korea’s nuclear program grew after the hermit state launched a new missile over the weekend. The missile landed in the sea close to Russia, Reuters reported.

Markets were also jittery that the extent of a global cyberattack could escalate as people return to work on Monday. Called “WannaCry,” the malware infects affected devices with a ransomware program. It hobbled the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) record systems last week.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index declined 0.18 percent. The Kospi shrugged off North Korea’s latest missile launch and reversed earlier losses to trade 0.39 percent higher. The S&P/AX 200 did likewise and was up 0.08 percent.

Markets in greater China were also in the green. The Hang Seng Index gained 0.56 percent. The Shanghai Composite added 0.26 percent and the Shenzhen Composite was higher by 0.461 percent.

Miner BHP Billiton is expected to unveil plans to unlock greater value from its shale assets after hedge fund Elliott Management urged the company to restructure last month, Reuters said. The company also dropped the “Billiton” in its name as part of a rebranding exercise. BHP shares fell 0.36 percent.

Also in Australia, Fairfax Media was reportedly offered A$2.76 billion ($2.04 billion) by TPG Capital Management for the entire company. An earlier bid by TPG had only targeted Fairfax’s main newspapers and property listings arm. Fairfax shares surged 7.24 percent on the news.

Japanese conglomerate Toshiba reported a 950 billion yen net loss for the last financial year. The results were not audited. The company’s CEO is due for a press conference at 1:00 pm HK/SIN. Toshiba shares were up 4.23 percent before the lunch break.

Over in Singapore, shares of Genting Singapore soared 6.02 percent after the company reported that Q1 profits were 16.7 times higher on year. Nomura analysts Tushar Mohata and Alpa Aggarwal reiterated their “Buy” call on the stock in a note, adding that they expected Genting shares to re-rate before companies begin tendering bids to open integrated resorts in Japan.

Oil prices rocketed upwards after energy ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia said they were in agreement that oil production cuts had to be extended until March 2018. Brent crude futures were gained 1.51 percent to trade at $51.61 a barrel and U.S. crude gained 1.67 percent to trade at $48.63.

In currency news, the dollar gained slightly against a basket of rival currencies at 99.256 after slipping last Friday. Weakness in the dollar was a result of weaker-than-expected economic data out of the U.S. last week. The dollar was also stronger against the yen, with the greenback fetching 113.39. Dollar/yen had breached the 114 level last week.

Economic data expected today includes April industrial production and retail sales out of China at 10:00 am HK/SIN. India will also report trade numbers for April at 8:30 pm.

Stateside, equities closed mixed last Friday after economic data proved to be a mixed bag, and on the back of the drop in retails stocks.

Source: CNBC

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