Asian Shares Tad Higher, China Data in Focus
Asian stocks were higher on Monday, at the start of a week heavy with economic data releases.
The Nikkei Share Average was up 0.3%, breaking a five-session losing streak that saw the index decline every day last week--its longest run of consecutive losses since late 2012, when the markets started to rally on hopes that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's so-called "Abenomics" program could revive Japan's economy.
The market has been weighed by a strengthening yen--a headwind for Japanese exporters--with the dollar losing a total of 0.7% against the Japanese currency last week. The greenback stabilized at the end of last week, and pushed a touch higher on Monday, allowing the Nikkei to recover. The dollar was last at Yen101.36, compared with Yen101.33 late Friday in New York.
Elsewhere in Asia, stocks edged higher as the region waited for a flurry of economic data due this week. Regional sentiment was also supported by gains on Wall Street on Friday, where stocks ended higher as fears receded over the health of a troubled Portuguese bank that rocked markets late last week.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6%, South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4%, and Singapore's Straits Times Index was flat.
In particular focus was Chinese growth data, due Wednesday, which will provide an update on the health of Asia's largest economy. The country's gross domestic product likely grew 7.4% in the second quarter, a result that would put it in line with the first quarter's expansion.
In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 0.6% and the Shanghai Composite was 0.1% higher.
The growth data will come along with industrial production and retail sales numbers. Investors will also be looking out for U.S. retail sales data and the minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy meeting, which are both out on Tuesday. On Thursday, U.S. housing starts data will be released.