Asian markets mixed after data and Japan tax hike

 
Harriet Green
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Trading in Asia’s been mixed today.

Some weak data has slightly dented equities, after what otherwise could have been a rally, following a sturdy first quarter for US markets.

A disappointing reading for China’s manufacturing sector, with the purchasing managers’ index falling to 48 in March - the lowest reading since last July.

Any number under 50 implies contraction, so today's figure underlines market concerns and those voiced by premier Li Keqiang, who has stressed the country has the right policies in reserve to help support economic growth.

The Hang Seng is currently up almost one per cent, however, at 22,365.

It’s been a bumpy morning in Japan, too, with a sobering business confidence survey and utilities seeing losses on a report that Hokkaido Electric Power will receive a capital injection from a state-owned lender.

Business sentiment didn’t really pick up in the first three months of the year, and that's now expected to spill into the next quarter.

Today, Japan has raised its sales tax from five to eight per cent. Hopes are that the hike won’t slow growth in the world’s third largest economy, particularly long-term.

The Nikkei’s flat at 14, 828. Korea’s Kospi is up 0.1 per cent at 1,988 and the Sensex is down 0.1 per cent at 22.361.