Asian markets ended mostly higher Monday. Regional exporters rose on a decline in oil prices and the stronger dollar, but Shanghai shares plunged on concern over inflation.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Index rose 2% to 13430.91, helped by gains in Wall Street Friday with a weaker yen lifting exporters' shares on short-covering.
Auto makers also jumped after September crude-oil futures slumped $4.82 a barrel to $115.20 a barrel Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract recently rose as much as 50 cents to $115.70 a barrel in electronic trading. Toyota Motor /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 -3.36% rose 4.1%, getting an extra boost from a news report that the company planned to raise domestic prices on some vehicles. Honda Motor /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 -3.42% gained 4.6%.
Resources-linked stocks were weak, however, as both gold futures and crude prices fell Friday. Mitsubishi fell 1.8% and Itochu /zigman2/quotes/204146563/delayed JP:8001 -2.75% dropped 4.1%.
But mainland China bucked the regional trend, shrugging off positive cues from overseas to send the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both Class A and Class B shares, sharply lower. The index tumbled 5.2% to end at 2470.07 following the release of economic data showing wholesale price inflation jumped to its highest level in 12 years in July. It was the benchmark exchange's lowest close in nearly a year and a half.
China's government reported Monday that the producer price index rose 10% in July over a year earlier, its highest rate of increase since 1996 and a jump over June's 8.8% rate. Such increases, fueled by rising energy and raw materials costs, add to pressure on consumer prices, complicating Beijing's effort to rein in politically sensitive inflation. (See related article.)
Airlines, textile exporters and refiners led Monday's declines. All three major publicly traded airlines dropped by the daily maximum 10%. Oil refiner China Petroleum & Chemical fell 5.4% and PetroChina plunged 5.54%. Aluminum giant Chinalco also fell by the 10% limit while property developer China Vanke slumped 5.6%.
The latest data on China's economy added to concerns over further tightening by Beijing and pushed Hong Kong shares slightly lower to end down 0.1% at 21859.34.
Chinese financial and resources companies led the local declines. Shenhua Energy /zigman2/quotes/206065610/delayed HK:1088 -1.15% fell 3.8%, CNOOC /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 -1.53% lost 3.2% and Chalco slipped 1.7%. Ping An Insurance /zigman2/quotes/210315058/delayed HK:2318 +0.06% slid 2.7%, China Life /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 -1.17% lost 1.1% and Bank of Communications /zigman2/quotes/203442771/delayed HK:3328 -0.20% fell 0.9%.
Elsewhere, Seoul's Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, gained 0.8% to end at 1581.09.
Shares of major exporters, such as technology firms and car makers, outperformed the broader market after the U.S. dollar extended gains against the Korean won. Bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 2.1%, LG Electronics gained 4%, and Hynix Semiconductor climbed 5.3%. Among auto companies, Hyundai Motor ended 2.4% higher while its affiliate, Kia Motors, closed up 3.1%.
Shipbuilders finished higher, but mostly off their early gains due to lingering worries over the shipping industry, said So Jang-Ho, an analyst at Samsung Securities. Hyundai Heavy Industries closed up 1.1% while Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering ended 0.7% higher.
Coupled with worries over potentially slower China economic growth, a fall in commodity prices hurt steelmakers. Posco, the world's fourth-largest steelmaker by output, lost 3.3% and Hyundai Steel fell 4.8%.
Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended up 0.8%. Friday's 2.7% rise on Wall Street combined with lower oil prices and a lower Australian dollar boosted the overall market, but resources and energy stocks were burdened by a slide in commodity prices.
In late trading, Mumbai's benchmark Sensex Index climbed 2.1% to 15481.44. Singapore's Straits Times Index gained 0.44% to 2819.91 while Taiwan's Weighted Index was up 1.6% at 7325.62.
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