Asian shares mixed after Wall Street bounce

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday, with Wall Street providing a strong lead after rebounding from a two-day sell-off thanks to better-than-expected retail sales data.

However, Hong Kong and Shanghai lagged the regional uptrend ahead of the release Wednesday of Chinese growth figures that are forecast to show a further slowdown in the economic giant.

Tokyo rose 0.82 per cent by the break, Sydney added 0.69 per cent and Seoul put on 0.10 per cent, but Hong Kong slipped 0.57 per cent while Shanghai shed 0.80 per cent.

Dealers were buoyed by the pick-up in New York, where the three main indexes last week suffered heavy losses as concerns that tech plays could be overvalued spread to other shares.

The US gains came after the government reported that US retail sales jumped 1.1 per cent in March, better than expected. Adding to the buying sentiment was a forecast-busting earnings report from banking giant Citi.

The Dow rallied 0.91 per cent and the S&P 500 gained 0.82 per cent, while the Nasdaq, which lost more than three per cent last week, added 0.57 per cent.

However, despite the pick-up, analysts said a sustained rebound would be tough.

"Energy in the market has dwindled, as traders are having a hard time finding decent catalysts," Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equities at SMBC Nikko Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

"Sell pressure has lessened compared to last week, but renewed buying pressure may take some time to gather momentum."

In currency exchange trade the dollar rose to 101.92 yen Tuesday, from 101.82 yen late in New York and 101.55 yen in Tokyo earlier Monday.

The euro fetched US$1.3812 and 140.75 yen compared with US$1.3820 and 140.74 yen.

In Asia this week, focus will turn to the release Wednesday of Chinese gross domestic product figures for the first quarter of the year.