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Asian stocks struggle despite China's growth

Asia-Pacific equity markets struggled for direction on Tuesday, with Chinese stocks lagging behind despite better-than-expected economic growth to start 2018.

China's gross domestic product increased 6.8% compared to the previous year in the first quarter, slightly exceeding expectations and equaling the growth of 2017. March retail sales also increased slightly more than analysts expected, although the growth of industrial production was short.

"While we do not believe that China's economy is expanding as fast as official figures claim, there is more evidence suggesting a recovery in the industry prevented growth from falling too much in the last quarter," said Julian Evans -Pritchard from Capital Economics. He has been cautious about the country's economic prospects.

Although China announced a surprising trade deficit in March on Friday, net exports had little impact on first-quarter GDP, said ANZ Research & # 39; s

Betty Wang

While the Chinese stock indexes rose after the data, the rebound proved fleeting. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8% in the afternoon session, while the Shenzhen ChiNext Price Index fell 2.3%.

Hong Kong stocks saw an even bigger rebound after the data, with the Hang Seng Index at half a percent at one point, although it ended the morning session flat and fell slightly during the afternoon.

The Hang Seng Index and the Shanghai Composite Index entered Tuesday's session in three-day losing slots, trailing other Asian stock markets. Properties and financial companies have been pressure points amid concerns about interest rates.

In Hong Kong, the de facto central bank of the city was forced to buy Hong Kong dollars again during the latest New York operations on Monday. weak end of its trading band against the US dollar. Since Thursday, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has bought HK $ 19 billion, and interbank lending rates have increased in recent days.

"Liquidity outflows in the banking system are another concern that will push the Hong Kong stock market to be soft in the short term," said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International.

Stocks in general remained stable in other parts of Asia, with most indexes within 0.3% of Monday's closing levels. The S & P 500 rose 0.8% on Monday amid optimistic reports in the first quarter, and futures rose 0.4%.

But on Tuesday the stock market in Taiwan fell, hit by the US. UU . The company, which has been targeted by Western governments, has been excluded by the United States from receiving goods from US companies.

ZTE is a smartphone manufacturer, and the prospects for the company to reduce the commercial actions of Asian companies in the smart phone supply chain. Taiwan Semiconductor, the largest company on the island, finished with a 2.3% decrease. That caused Taiwan's Taiex stock index to fall 1.3%.

In Hong Kong, component manufacturers

Sunny Optical

and AAC Tech fell more than 4%. ZTE, which is listed in Hong Kong, did not trade on Tuesday, although Jefferies cut its share target by more than half as it moved from ZTE shares.

But in general, investors' concerns about trade and the Middle East are in the rearview mirror, some say. "The markets have passed geopolitical tensions," ANZ analysts said in a note.

In commodities, oil futures rose more than 0.5% in Asia after falling more than 1% on Monday. The market jumped 8% last week to reach the levels last seen at the end of 2014.

Write to That Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com

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