Business

Japan's stocks lead gains in Asia on Monday

nikkei Image copyright Getty Images

Stocks in Japan and China led gains on Monday, extending a rally on Wall Street which closed at its highest level so far this year on Friday.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 finished the session up 1.75% to 17,233.75 points.

Investor sentiment in Japan was given a boost as official machinery orders data showed a 15% jump in January from December, beating estimates.

Japan's machinery orders are seen as a way of gauging capital spending for the next six to nine months.

"Today's data on machinery orders suggest that capital spending will continue to expand this quarter," said Japan economist Marcel Thieliant.

"While a near-term slowdown is likely, we expect the recovery in capital expenditure to resume towards the end of this year," he added.

Meanwhile, Japan's central bank commences its two-day meeting later.

Ahead of the meeting, the International Monetary Fund backed Japan's recent decision to introduce negative interest rates to spur growth.

The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said unconventional monetary policies should continue if they were accompanied by structural reforms and low inflation.

Elsewhere, Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.4% to 5,185.50, helped by energy-related stocks which were higher after a rise in oil prices.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index closed flat at 1,972.27.

In China

Image copyright Getty Images

Official numbers released over the weekend showed China's industrial output slowed to its weakest growth since the financial crisis. Over the January and February period, production rose by 5.4% - the worst since 2008.

Retail sales in the first two months of the year fell short of expectations, growing by 10.2% - compared with forecasts for a 10.9% rise.

The numbers add to concerns over China's slowdown and the global recovery.

Speaking over the weekend, the governor of China's central bank, Zhou Xiaochuan, said the government would be able to achieve an economic growth target of about 6.5% for the next five years without the need to introduce excessive stimulus measures.

"Excessive monetary policy stimulus isn't necessary to achieve the target," he said. "If there isn't any big economic or financial turmoil, we'll keep prudent monetary policy."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended the day 1.2% higher at 20,435.34, while the Shanghai Composite closed up 1.8% at 2,859.50.

More on this story