Asian stocks post modest gains after China releases growth data

TOKYO - Asian stock markets mostly eked out modest gains Tuesday after China's quarterly economic growth met expectations, calming some of the investor jitters in the region.

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KEEPING SCORE: China's Shanghai Composite was up 1.6 per cent at 2,961.58 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 per cent to 19,386.75. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.7 per cent to 4,885. Japan's Nikkei 225 overcame early losses to rise 0.2 per cent to 16,989.31. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.2 per cent to 1,881.77. Markets in Southeast Asia were mixed. New Zealand gained.

CHINA ECONOMY: China's economic growth edged down to 6.8 per cent in the final quarter of 2015 as trade and consumer spending weakened. The quarterly growth figure was the weakest in six years and 6.9 per cent growth for the full year was the lowest in 25 years. That was in line with market expectations but some analysts had forecast a much sharper slowdown. Chinese leaders are trying to reduce reliance on trade and investment by nurturing slower, more self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption and services.

THE QUOTE: China's "official data do not point to a hard landing in the fourth quarter of 2015, but they provide little reason to stop worrying about China's drag on the global economy, either," said Bill Adams, senior international economist at PNC Financial Services Group. "Chinese domestic demand remains weak, held back by three persistent headwinds."

EUROPEAN MARKETS: Germany's DAX, which had opened 1.2 per cent higher, declined over the course of Monday to end 0.3 per cent lower at 9,521.85. The CAC 40 of France fell 0.5 per cent to 4,189.57 and Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.4 per cent to 5,8779.92. U.S. markets were closed for a public holiday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 2 cents to $30.36 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 40 cents to $28.95 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar rose to 117.62 yen from 117.50 yen in the previous trading day. The euro was little changed at $1.0886 from $1.0885.


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