Asian equities were hit by a mixed batch of economic data, led lower by Japan’s Nikkei 225 as investors booked profits on exporters following several weeks of gains.
The benchmark Tokyo index fell 2.1 per cent to 12,135.02. Over the first quarter the index was up 16.1 per cent thanks in part to gains for export stocks as the yen fell 7.4 per cent against the dollar over the same period.
It was these exporters whose shares fell the most on Monday as investors took some profits. NEC, the maker of computers and other electronic devices, fell 4.9 per cent to Y233, while watchmaker Citizen Holdings lost 4.5 per cent to Y472 and Mazda Motor shed 4.3 per cent to Y269.
A mildly disappointing survey of Japan’s businesses. the Bank of Japan’s Tankan report, also proved to be a negative for stocks as the headline index improved to minus 8 from minus 12 in the fourth quarter, missing expectations of an improvement to minus 7.
Tokyo Electric Power was the biggest gainer, up 4.3 per cent to Y266 after securing a deal with suppliers to buy 1.2m tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas. Japanese imports of LNG jumped following the Fukushima nuclear crisis two years ago and the country now consumes about a third of global supply.
Along with most markets in Europe, a number of the Asia-Pacific region’s equity markets remained shut for public holidays, including Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Indian stocks managed modest gains as the BSE Sensex index nudged 0.2 per cent higher to 18,864.75 as banks were among the winners.
State Bank of India gained 0.9 per cent to Rs2,090.60, while ICICI Bank rose 0.6 per cent to Rs1,051.55.
The index was led, however, by drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, whose founder K Anji Reddy died in March, up 3.4 per cent to Rs1,825.90.
Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.4 per cent to 1,995.99, while China’s Shanghai Composite eased 0.1 per cent to 2,234.4.