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Asia-Pacific stocks edge higher; first-quarter data shows Japan’s economy contracted


SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific rose in Tuesday morning trade, as investors reacted to the release of Japan’s first quarter gross domestic data.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.89% in early trade while the Topix index advanced 0.66%.

Japan’s economy shrank at an annualized rate of 5.1% in January to March, government data showed Tuesday. On a seasonally adjusted basis, gross domestic product in January-March fell 1.3% quarter-on-quarter, slightly lower than expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.2% decline. That came as resurgent Covid infections in the country snapped two quarters of consecutive growth.

South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.55% higher. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.32%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded around 0.1% higher.

Looking ahead, minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s May policy meeting are set to be out at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN.

On the coronavirus front, the World Health Organization warned Monday that the global pandemic isn’t over yet despite high Covid vaccination rates in some countries. In Asia, places such as Singapore and Taiwan have seen a recent resurgence in local infections, prompting authorities to tighten restrictions in a bid to stem the virus’ spread.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 54.34 points to close at 34,327.79 while the S&P 500 shed 0.25% to 4,163.29 and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.38% to end the trading day on Wall Street at 13,379.05.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.181 — still off levels above 90.8 seen recently.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.23 per dollar after strengthening from levels around 109.5 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7772, stronger than levels below $0.774 seen last week.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up slightly at $69.50 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also traded fractionally higher at $66.30 per barrel.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • Australia: Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s May policy meeting at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN

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