May 15, 2016 - 3:30 PM EDT
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Asian Markets Mixed After Weak Wall Street Lead, China Data

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are mixed on Monday amid increased risk aversion following the weak cues overnight from Wall Street and disappointing economic data from China over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Japanese market is advancing following a media report that the government may delay a planned sales tax hike.

Over the weekend, China's National Bureau of Statistics reported that industrial production and retail sales grew less than expected in April, damping hopes of stabilization in the economy. Fixed-asset investment also slowed, the bureau said.

The Australian market is up with modest gains, after a weak start following the negative cues from Wall Street, lower commodity prices and disappointing economic data from China over the weekend.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 12.30 points or 0.23 percent to 5,341.30, after opening weak and touching a low of 5,319.80. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 9.70 points or 0.18 percent to 5,406.00.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is adding 0.2 percent, Rio Tinto is edging up 0.07 percent and Fortescue Metals is rising 0.4 percent despite a slump in iron ore prices.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is up 0.6 percent and Evolution Mining is higher by more than 1 percent as gold prices rose on Friday.

In the oil space, Oil Search is declining 0.3 percent, Santos is losing 0.4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.2 percent as crude oil prices declined.

The big banks are also mostly higher. Westpac is adding 0.3 percent, ANZ Banking is up 0.5 percent and Commonwealth Bank is advancing 0.4 percent, while National Australia Bank is edging down 0.03 percent.

Elders Ltd. gave a mixed outlook after reporting a 55 percent increase in profit for the first half of the year. The agribusiness company's shares are losing almost 4 percent.

Sirtex Medical has named Kevin Richardson as its chief executive for the Americas. The cancer treatment developer's shares are gaining almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is extending losses against the U.S. dollar on Monday amid increased risk aversion. In early trades, the Australian dollar was trading at US$0.7250, down from US$0.7289 on Friday.

The Japanese market is advancing following a media report that the government may delay a sales tax hike.

The Nikkei business daily reported Saturday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to postpone a consumption tax hike scheduled for next April over fears that it would derail efforts to boost prices.

Abe is likely to deliberate more on the matter and announce the decision only after the Group of Seven leaders' summit to be held in Japan later this month, the report said.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 192.62 points or 1.17 percent to 16,604.83, off a high of 16,629.12.

Among the major exporters, Sony is losing 1 percent, Toshiba is declining almost 2 percent and Sharp Corp. is unchanged. Meanwhile, Panasonic is rising almost 2 percent and Canon is up 1 percent. Market heavyweight Fast Retailing is advancing 0.6 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is adding 0.3 percent and Honda is edging up 0.02 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is advancing 0.7 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is up 0.2 percent, while JX Holdings is down 0.8 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Shiseido Co. is higher by more than 10 percent after raising its profit forecast. Sumitomo Electric is rising 14 percent after it projected an increase in its operating profit.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were down 0.3 percent on month in April. That missed forecasts for an increase of 0.2 percent following the 0.1 percent decline in March.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 108 yen-level on Monday, slightly down from Friday's close in Tokyo.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, New Zealand and Hong Kong are higher, while

Shanghai, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are in negative territory.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday as upbeat retail sales data led to renewed concerns about the outlook for interest rates. A separate report from the University of Michigan also showed that consumer sentiment jumped to an eleven-month high in May.

The Dow slumped 185.18 points or 1.1 percent to 17,535.32, the Nasdaq dropped 19.66 points or 0.4 percent to 4,717.68 and the S&P 500 slid 17.50 points or 0.9 percent to 2, moved higher on Friday.

The major European markets moved higher on Friday. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both climbed by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil prices closed lower on Friday after Russia warned that the global oil market might not balance out until the first half of 2017. Crude for June delivery slid $0.49 or 1.05 percent to $46.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Source: News (May 15, 2016 - 3:30 PM EDT)

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