Asia markets edgy on growth anxieties after China inflation, German data

A pedestrian looks at an electronic board showing various stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A pedestrian looks at an electronic board showing various stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets were mixed Wednesday, with bargain-hunters providing some lift after recent losses but global economic concerns were sharply in view after Chinese inflation hit a five-year low.

US stocks came off a three-day sell-down to provide a positive lead thanks to some solid earnings reports, while the euro continued to struggle following another batch of soft German data.

Tokyo added 0.17 per cent, Hong Kong rose 0.15 per cent, and Sydney gained 0.21 per cent - but Shanghai lost 0.30 per cent while Seoul was flat.

A slew of weak figures out of China, Japan and the eurozone have fanned worries about the global outlook and sent investors running for the door in recent weeks, despite the US economy showing healthy growth.

On Wednesday, Beijing said inflation in September eased to 1.6 per cent - its lowest since January 2010 - from 2.0 per cent in August, indicating deflationary risks are rising in the world's number two economy.

The government also said the producer price index (PPI) - a measure of costs for goods at the factory gate and a leading indicator of the trend for CPI - fell 1.8 per cent year-on-year. The last PPI increase was in January 2012, when it rose 0.7 per cent.

The report is the latest suggesting problems in the Chinese economy, a key driver of global and regional growth. While data Monday showed a better-than-expected pick-up in exports and imports, analysts say there are still fundamental weaknesses.

Confidence has also been given a knock from disappointing figures out of Germany, including on factory orders, industrial production, and foreign trade. On Tuesday, a closely watched index of investor sentiment fell for the 10th straight month, to its lowest level since November 2012.

World oil prices picked up after plummeting on Tuesday, although they are still down around a fifth from their 2014 highs. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November delivery was up 12 cents at US$81.96 a barrel in mid-morning trade, and Brent crude climbed 34 cents to US$85.38.