The Asian and Pacific Rim markets were inching higher on Wednesday. Regional traders are monitoring China as they try to restart factories that have been closed to help contain the coronavirus.
Elsewhere in in the Asian region, economic data out of Japan was shockingly weak as exports and capital spending fell, again, last month.
In the Down Under, the benchmark S&P ASX 200 was flat as the afternoon hours started. In South Korea, the Kospi composite index was down 0.45 percent by lunchtime.
In Hong Kong the Hang Seng index added 0.38 percent and on the mainland in China, the benchmarks were fairly flat by the afternoon. The Shenzhen composite however, was down a quarter of a percent.
The Asian benchmark in Japan, the Nikkei 225 reversed early losses to rise 0.44 percent. On Tuesday, the Nikkei shed over one percent. The broader Topix index, in Tokyo, added 0.32 percent.
Japanese Economic Data worries Asian Traders
Economic data, this week out of Japan, is worrying. The Japanese economy is contracting faster than anticipated. Economic growth, according to data released on Monday, is contracting at its fastest pace in six years. Now traders are worrying that the coronavirus will have a larger impact on their economy in the first quarter.
Today’s trade data was also not very good for Japan. For the month of January, exports fell 2.6 percent annually. This was less than the expected 6.9 percent but the 14th monthly contraction in a row.
Traders watch as China Struggles to reopen Factories
China is starting to restart manufacturing centers that had been shuttered thanks to the coronavirus. China had imposed city wide closures and travel restrictions to contain the spread of the deadly outbreak.
Chinese health officials said that the number of new cases in the Hubei province fell for a second day in a row. However, the World Health Organization is cautioning there is not enough data to determine if the number of new cases has peaked or not.