Asian stocks higher after China GDP beats estimate

Asian stock markets traded higher late Tuesday, with sentiment supported by China’s fourth quarter gross domestic product which beat expectations to come in at 7.3 percent from the year-ago period. This was a tick higher than the 7.2 percent forecast by analysts and holding steady from the prior quarter.

In other news, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) trimmed its global growth forecast for 2015-16, cautioning that the boost from lower crude oil prices would be offset by dimmer economic prospects for China, Russia, the euro area, Japan and oil producers.

U.S. markets were closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.

NIKKEI Nikkei 225 Index 17322.33
308.04 1.81%
HSI Hang Seng Index 23872.24
133.75 0.56%
ASX 200 S&P/ASX 200 5307.70
-1.44 -0.03%
SHANGHAI Shanghai Composite Index 3158.89
42.54 1.37%
KOSPI KOSPI Index 1916.94
14.32 0.75%
CNBC 100 CNBC 100 ASIA IDX 6962.87
35.90 0.52%

Mainland indices up

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index widened gains to nearly 2 percent following a better-than-expected growth report card. In the previous session, the key stock index slumped 7.7 percent – its biggest daily percentage drop in over six years – to a three-and-a-half-week low on the back of declines in property developers. A crackdown on margin lending also led to losses in the financial sector.

Brokerages continued the downtrend on Tuesday, with Citic Securities and Haitong Securities leading declines with a more than 8 percent plunge, respectively. Founder Securities also receded 3.2 percent.

“1 trillion of outstanding margin financing isn’t a small amount so definitely, there will be a pop. Stocks like Haitong and Citic dropped by 10 percent yesterday, but in Hong Kong, there was 10-15 percent fall, so A-shares will catch up to H-shares today by dropping further,” Dickie Wong, executive director at Kingston Securities, told CNBC.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index held on to a 0.6 percent gain.

Read MoreTaste of new China via Shenzhen trading link

Nikkei up 1.8%

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 touched a one-and-a-half-week high, buoyed by dollar-yen which inched up above the 118 handle – its highest in a week. Exporter stocks including Nikon and Panasonic rallied more than 3 percent each, while automakers Toyota Motor, Suzuki Motor and Nissan also made gains between 2.6 and 1.5 percent each.

Sharp bucked the rising trend to retreat nearly 2 percent on news that it could slide back into the red this financial year due to fierce price competition in television and other key products.

Trading house Itochu were among the top losers for the day, retreating 2.5 percent after it announced that it is teaming up with Thailand’s CP Group to invest in China’s Citic Group.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan commences its two-day monetary policy on Tuesday and it is unlikely to roll out further easing, analysts say. “Cheaper oil is a bliss for Japan. They are already buying buying enough JGBs and the yen is weak enough so there is no reason for additional easing,” Takuji Okubo, principal and chief economist at Japan Macro Advisors, told CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box.”

Read MoreBank of Japan: To bazooka or not

ASX flat

Australia’s key S&P ASX 200 index closed little changed on Tuesday, helped by positive data from China which helped the bourse to pare an earlier 0.5 percent decline. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar ticked down 0.5 percent, after briefly erasing losses following the mainland’s growth number, to buy $0.8175 to the dollar.

Rio Tinto, which announced a 12 percent rise in fourth quarter output on-year despite a big drop in the price of iron ore, shed 0.7 percent, while Rio Tinto closed down 0.8 percent. Atlas Iron tanked 5.3 percent after the miner slashed its FY 2015 capital expenditure guidance due to challenging market conditions.

“While [the GDP data] is below the growth target, 7.4 percent isn’t too far away and that suggests demand is there. Hence, it will have a positive effect in the short term, but it will still boil down to [iron ore] prices in the long run,” John Wilson, stock broker at Morgans Financial, said.

Australia’s banking sector is in focus, as ANZ Banking prepares to kick off a sale process for its vehicle and equipment finance business Esanda. Shares of the lender notched up nearly 1 percent, while players seen interested in the asset including Macquarie Group and Bank of Queensland climbed up 2.7 and dropped 0.1 percent, respectively.

Kospi rises 0.7%

South Korean shares advanced on the back of a performance among blue-chip majors. Samsung Electronics, the heaviest weighted stock on the Kospi index, added more than 1 percent on news that the electronics giant could be considering a stock split, said Reuters quoting an executive.

Kepco jumped 5.7 percent on expectations that the country’s largest utility could post better-than-expected fourth quarter profits. Retailer Shinsegae tripled losses to 0.9 percent late Tuesday after it announced a record 3.4 trillion won investment into mega malls and logistics centers.

Korean Air is in focus as its former executive, Cho Hyun-ah, appeared in court for violating aviation safety laws after causing a plane to be delayed last December. Shares of the airline inched up 0.1 percent.

Emerging Asia

Malaysia’s benchmark FTSE Bursa Kuala Lumpur Composite index slipped 0.2 percent as Prime Minister Najib Razak announced a revised budget on Tuesday. An increase in the country’s fiscal deficit target to 3.2 percent of gross domestic product for 2015 and a cut in growth forecast was announced amid plunging global oil prices. The Malaysian ringgit traded at 3.5930 against the greenback.

India’s benchmark indices were trading at more than 6-week highs early Tuesday, with the Nifty and BSE Sensex rising 0.5 percent each.

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