Asia Markets: Asian markets mixed after decades-worst GDP growth by China

Asian markets were mixed in early trading Friday, as new data showed worse-than-expected economic growth in China.

China’s economy expanded at a 6% rate year-over-year, official data showed, less than the median 6.1% forecast by economists polled by the Wall Street Journal, and the worst pace of growth since the first quarter of 1992. It was the second straight month of weaker year-on-year data. China expects annual GDP growth of 6% to 6.5% this year, down from last year’s 6.6% growth.

Still, investors appeared relieved the numbers weren’t worse, considering the ongoing tariff war with the U.S. and signs of a global slowdown.

“While the GDP is testing the lower bound of the official annual 6-6.5% target, today’s data suggests there is a very limited risk of breaching the lower bounds of that target this year,” Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific market strategist for AxiTrader, wrote in a note. “While risk asset is not flashing all green, markets can breathe a sigh of relief.”

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.18% rose 0.6% as a core inflation reading fell to 0.3% in September, the lowest level since April 2017, but in line with analysts’ expectations. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.48% fell 0.1% giving up early gains, while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -1.32% fell 0.2% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, -1.17% was last about flat. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, -0.83% was flat as well, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -0.06% , Singapore STI, -0.38% , Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.18% and Malaysia FBMKLCI, -0.21% were little changed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.52% slipped 0.6%.

Among individual stocks, robotics maker Fanuc 6954, +2.21% gained in Tokyo trading, along with Rakuten 4755, +2.43% and Fast Retailing 9983, +1.82% . In Hong Kong, Sunny Optical 2382, +1.28% and AIA 1299, -0.53% gained, while property developers such as Wharf Real Estate 1997, -1.11% retreated after big gains Thursday. Kia Motors 000270, -0.12% gained in South Korea, while Westpac WBC, -0.83% and Commonwealth Bank CBA, -0.59% slipped in Australia.