Asia trades higher as investors appear more upbeat on China – CNBC

Asia Pacific markets were mostly higher Monday morning, after stronger-than-expected China data on Friday improved investor confidence.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.13 percent in early trade. The Topix index was up 1.46 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.32 percent. Shares of Asiana Airlines and its affiliates soared in the morning session. Asiana Airlines shares were up 26.43 percent. Affiliates Air Busan and Asiana IDT rose 20.34 percent and 23.31 percent, respectively. It wasn’t immediately clear why the stock prices surged.

Last week, creditors rejected a restructuring plan proposed by the South Korean carrier’s parent, Kumho Asiana Group, saying it was not sufficient to restore market trust in the indebted airline, according to Reuters. A spokesman for the parent company told the news agency that it will submit a new restructuring plan.

Australia’s ASX 200 was up 0.1 percent even as most sectors slipped. The heavily weighted financial subindex, however, was up 0.54 percent, boosted by gains in major banking stocks.

“Stronger than expected China trade and credit data triggered a risk on move on Friday,” Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign-exchange strategist at the National Australia Bank, wrote in a morning note.

Customs data showed China’s March exports were higher than expected: Dollar-denominated exports rose 14.2 percent on-year, topping prediction of a 7.3 percent gain, according to a Reuters poll. Still, imports fell short of expectations, indicating domestic demand in the world’s second-largest economy remained weak.

“A couple of hours later we had the big kicker with China’s credit data revealing a big jump in March,” Catril added. The better-than-expected data signaled a “substantial ramp up in credit in the economy. This means credit easing measures are kicking in quite hard and focus will now turn to March’s activity data.”

Investors will look for further signs of recovery in the Chinese economy, and its implication of global growth outlook. Last week, the International Monetary Fund again slashed its global economic growth forecast for 2019, citing risks such as increasing trade tensions and tighter monetary policy by the U.S. central bank.

Encouraging developments in the U.S.-China trade negotiations also added to the positive sentiment, according to Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank.

Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington and Beijing are making progress on a trade deal, which includes agreeing on an enforcement mechanism. Still, Mnuchin declined to say if the U.S. will use tariffs as an enforcement tool.

“Positive US-China trade developments, with Treasury Sec Mnuchin conceding grounds for ‘enforcement … in both directions’ (where US had earlier demanded China give up its right to retaliation) arguably add to the tailwinds,” Varathan wrote in a Monday morning note.

In the currency market, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, traded at 96.925, dipping from levels above 97.000 in the previous week.

The Japanese yen, considered a safe-haven currency, traded at 112.04 to the dollar, weakening from below 111.20. The Australian dollar traded near flat at $0.7172.

Elsewhere, Indonesia heads to the polls this week on April 17.