Asian stock markets were mostly higher Wednesday after figures from China and Japan showed the region’s two biggest economies were on track to recovering from the global downturn.
But the region’s advance, its fourth in a row, appeared to slow as investors tread cautiously following recent gains and a lackluster session on Wall Street. The dollar and oil prices slipped modestly.
The Chinese government said the slump in the country’s exports eased last month as industrial output and retail sales rose sharply, with inflation still tame. Together, the figures showed China’s economy, with the help of massive stimulus spending, would meet or surpass this year’s economic growth target of 8 percent.
“Data showed the economy has real good growth prospects,” said Ellie Chan, senior analyst at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.
Adding to positive signs in Asia, Japan’s core machinery orders, a closely watched indicator of corporate capital spending, jumped 10.5 percent in September, marking the second straight month of gains.
Japan’s Nikkei stock average was higher in the morning before trading nearly flat at 9,871.68, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 22,421.20.
Although Hong Kong shares were still higher than the previous day’s close, the surge seen in recent sessions, encouraged by a rally on Wall Street, was running out of steam, Chan said.
China’s Shanghai benchmark was off 0.1 percent after eight straight gains, while South Korea’s market added 0.6 percent.
In the U.S, the Dow wavered but continued to rise to a new annual high, adding 20.03, or 0.2 percent, to 10,246.97, its highest close since Oct. 3, 2008.
The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.07, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,093.01, after six days of gains.
Oil prices fell below $79 in Asia as investors mulled rising U.S. oil inventories and a weaker dollar. Benchmark crude for December delivery down 14 cents to $78.91 a barrel. The contract fell 38 cents to settle at $79.05 on Tuesday.
The dollar was trading at 89.58 yen, down from 89.72 yen. The euro stayed at about the same levels at $1.4980.