Asian markets have been mixed following another sell-off on Wall Street and worse-than-expected eurozone data, while Mumbai hit a record high as pro-business candidate Narendra Modi headed for a landslide general election victory.
Tokyo fell 1.41 per cent, or 201.62 points, on Friday to finish at 14,096.59 owing to a stronger yen and Sydney eased 0.58 per cent, or 31.8 points, to close at 5,479.0 but Seoul edged up 0.16 per cent, or 3.24 points, to 2,013.44.
Shanghai reversed morning losses to end flat, edging up 1.53 points to 2,026.50. Hong Kong eased ended flat, dipping 17.95 points to 22,712.91, capping off a six-day winning streak.
A recent pick-up in equities took a knock after a string of weak first-quarter figures from Europe fuelled concerns about the strength of the region’s recovery.
Gross domestic product (GDP) across the 18-nation eurozone expanded just 0.2 per cent in January-March, data agency Eurostat said, half the 0.4 per cent that had been forecast.
Italy, the third-biggest economy in the bloc, shrank 0.1 per cent in that period, while Portugal, which is about to emerge from a bailout, contracted 0.7 per cent.
Separately Eurostat confirmed eurozone inflation rose to 0.7 per cent in April, up from the 0.5 per cent reported in March but still well off the European Central Bank’s 2.0 per cent target.
There was a bright spot, however, with Germany seeing growth double to 0.8 per cent, beating market forecasts.
The data add to expectations that the European Central Bank will ease monetary policy conditions to kick-start growth in the region and soothe fears of deflation.
Indian shares jumped more than six per cent at one point, hitting a record high above 25,000 points, before easing back a touch as opposition leader Modi prepared for become the country’s next prime minister.
His Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared “the start of a new era” in the world’s biggest democracy as preliminary results and media projections put them on track for the first parliamentary majority by a single party in 30 years.
The clear win give Modi a free hand to push through reforms to boost the economy but some warn he may not be able to turn around years of frustration about low economic growth, rising food prices and corruption.
Banks were leading the gainers, with Canara Bank surging 21.57 per cent and Andhra Bank jumping 16.17 per cent, while the rupee rallied 1.14 per cent to 58.52 against the US dollar.
The currency has been strengthening in recent weeks on expectations that Modi would win the marathon six-week election and introduce structural reforms to turn the economy around. It has now risen 17.45 per cent since it sank to a record low of 68.85 in August.
India’s share market has risen 5.0 per cent in the past week on hopes Modi will kickstart investment and growth in the economy, which is growing at a decade low.
In the United States shares fell in response to weak corporate and economic figures. Retail giant Walmart spooked investors by saying earnings were down five per cent in the first quarter compared with last year.
Also Thursday, the Federal Reserve said industrial production fell 0.6 per cent in April after two days of gains.
The Dow sank 1.01 per cent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.94 per cent just two days after each index had hit a record high. The tech-rich Nasdaq eased 0.76 per cent.
The negative sentiment sent investors seeking out safer assets, sending the yen higher.
The dollar bought 101.55 yen in the afternoon compared with 101.57 yen late in New York and well off the 101.83 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday. The euro fetched 139.28 yen, against 139.26 yen in New York but much lower than the 139.65 yen in Japan earlier Thursday.
The euro was at $US1.3715 against $US1.3711.
Oil prices rose. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for June delivery, was up 10 cents at $US101.89 60 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for July was flat at to $US109.10.
Gold fetched $US1,293.51 an ounce at 1100GMT (2100 AEST) compared with $US1,305.46 late Thursday.
In other markets, Mumbai rose 0.90 per cent, or 216.14 points, to end at 24,121.74 points. Indiabulls Real Estate surged 18.84 per cent to 78.20 rupees while Sobha Developers gained 11.97 per cent to 426.95 rupees.
Singapore closed down 0.30 per cent, or 9.90 points, at 3,262.59. DBS Bank declined 0.06 per cent to Sg$16.85 while oil rig maker Keppel Corp eased 0.75 per cent to Sg$10.57.
Kuala Lumpur hit a new record high after adding 0.19 per cent, or 3.51 points, to finish at 1,883.34. Kuala Lumpur Kepong ended 1.3 per cent higher at 25.02 ringgit while Faber Group was up 6.0 per cent to 3.16. Carlsberg fell 2.1 per cent to 12.28 ringgit.
Jakarta ended up 0.80 per cent, or 39.94 points, at 5,031.57. State-owned lender Bank Tabungan Negara gained 3.62 per cent to 1,145 rupiah, while miner Aneka Tambang fell 3.17 per cent to 1,220 rupiah.
Bangkok gained 0.72 per cent or 10.05 points to 1,405.26. Bangkok Life Assurance rose 4.56 per cent to 80.25 baht, while Charoen Pokphand Foods added 3.85 per cent to 27.00 baht.
Taipei was flat, edging up 7.80 points to 8,888.45. Smartphone maker HTC rose 0.31 per cent to Tw$163.0 while Hon Hai was 0.23 per cent higher at Tw$88.8.
Wellington was down 0.17 per cent, or 8.77 points, at 5,186.19. Fletcher Building was down 0.87 per cent at NZ$9.13 while Telcom added 0.74 per cent to NZ$2.73.
Manila dipped 0.46 per cent, or 31.62 points, to 6,817.71.