Asian markets advance on positive China data

An investor walks past an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on July 27, 2016.
An investor walks past an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on July 27, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian markets mostly rose on Tuesday (Aug 9) as fresh Chinese data provided signs of improving conditions for the world's second largest economy.

China's producer prices fell in July at their slowest rate in nearly two years, fuelling hopes the end of a painful slowdown could be in sight for the Asian powerhouse which is a key driver of the global economy.

Shanghai advanced 0.7 per cent after the producer price index, which measures the cost of goods at the factory gate, fell 1.7 per cent year-on-year in July.

The figure was better than expectations of a 2 per cent decline in a Bloomberg News poll of economists and much less than the 2.6 per cent fall in June.

Protracted declines in the Producer Price Index bode ill for industrial prospects as customers seek to delay purchases in anticipation of lower prices in future, starving companies of business and funds.

Elsewhere traders were generally cautious after US markets retreated from record highs.

Sydney added 0.3 per cent by the close and Seoul ended 0.6 per cent higher. Hong Kong closed down 0.1 per cent.

Tokyo closed up 0.7 per cent on a weaker yen and as energy stocks got a lift.

The US dollar was at 102.45 yen, unchanged from Monday in New York but well up from levels below 101 seen last week.

Japanese exporters benefit from a weaker yen as it inflates the value of their overseas profits.

Energy stocks rose after OPEC said it would hold an informal meeting in Algeria next month - hinting it could take action to stabilise the crude market.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Monday that a meeting would take place on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum in Algeria from Sept 26 to 28, ahead of a planned meeting at the end of November.

Oil prices have been fluctuating since entering a "bear" market last week, when they fell more than 20 per cent and closed below US$40 a barrel for the first time since April.

Prices rebounded overnight but retreated in Asian trade.

West Texas Intermediate was down 46 cents at US$42.56 while Brent lost 53 cents to US$44.86.