Asia Markets: Asian markets quiet ahead of Chinese economic data

Asia Pacific equity markets were little moved early Tuesday ahead of a swath of Chinese data, headlined by first-quarter economic growth.

Consensus is for the Chinese economy to have grown 6.7% in the first three months of the year, a slight slowdown from 2017’s growth. But quarterly readings last year repeatedly topped expectations, and ING economist Iris Pang is expecting a repeat thanks to supportive infrastructure investment and consumption.

While U.S. stock benchmarks rose nearly 1% on Monday, Asian indexes Tuesday morning, including Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.01%   and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.50%  , were within 0.2% of the prior day’s closing levels.

For the moment, investors have pushed worries about trade and the Middle East into the rear view. “Markets have moved on from geopolitical tensions,” said ANZ analysts in a research note.

Behind the Chinese data, which also includes March retail sales and industrial production, investors will also be keeping an eye on the Hong Kong dollar.

The city’s de facto central bank was forced to buy Hong Kong dollars again during late New York trading on Monday as the local currency continues to hit the weak end of its trading band versus the U.S. dollar. Since Thursday, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has purchased HK$19 billion.

The Hong Kong dollar’s weakness weighed on the city’s stocks Monday, making them a noted underperformer along with Chinese big caps. There, banks were hit by prospects of lenders getting more flexibility to set deposit rates, raising concerns about margin pressures.

Oil futures LCOM8, +0.25%   rebounded in Asia, rising 0.5% after crude fell more than 1% on Monday.

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