Asian markets lower as Chinese exports grow at a slower than expected

<p>All ears are focused on China’s comments today. Chinese exports grew at a slower pace than economists forecast, overshadowing a rebound in Japan’s machinery orders […]</p>

All ears are focused on China’s comments today. Chinese exports grew at a slower pace than economists forecast, overshadowing a rebound in Japan’s machinery orders today and US jobs coming in above expectations on Friday.

The MSCI Asia Pacific index shed a modest 0.3% at noon in Tokyo trading. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was among the exceptions, rising 0.3% after the nation’s machinery orders rebounded in January, signaling company investment will help to drive a return to growth.

The Japanese Yen’s cooling against the US dollar continues to provide relief for Japanese exporters, one year on after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Still, Japan’s PM continued reiterate his view that the Yen remains overvalued despite its recent fall.

“Compared to record highs seen last October the Yen has weakened but as a trend it is still somewhat overvalued … The Yen is valued highly in relative terms when considering fundamentals,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in parliament.

In other currencies, the US dollar last traded at 82.21 against the Yen while the Australian dollar was buying 1.0535 dollars and the Euro slipped back below 1.31 to trade at 1.3092. Risks assets were weighed down slightly following a speech by Chinese officials when stressed the capacity and willingness for further easing, but stopped short of any concrete efforts at the moment.

It’s worth pointing out that Chinese data in the first two months has been distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in January this year and February last year. Gold slipped from its intraday high of US$1714/oz to last trade at US$1708/oz.

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