[HONG KONG] Shanghai stocks ended at a seven-year high Monday after another round of weak Chinese data fuelled hopes for fresh stimulus, while the dollar sat around 13-year highs following a forecast-busting US jobs report.
Shanghai added 2.17 per cent, or 108.78 points, to 5,131.88 - the highest since January 2008 - while Hong Kong rose 0.21 per cent, or 56.12 points to close at 27,316.28.
Tokyo pared earlier losses to end marginally lower, dipping 3.71 points to 20,457.19, while Seoul closed 0.14 per cent down, giving up 2.91 points to 2,065.19.
Sydney was closed for a public holiday.
Official data on Monday showed Chinese imports slumped 17.6 per cent in May, a seventh straight fall, and much sharper than the median forecast of 10 per cent by a Bloomberg News poll of economists. Imports had fallen 16.2 per cent in April.
Meanwhile exports dropped for the third successive month, slipping 2.5 per cent.
The figures are the latest to suggest the Asian economic giant is struggling to get back up to speed after growth was recorded at its slowest since 1990 last year.
However, traders took the data as an opportunity to continue buying equities on expectations Beijing will add to its three rate cuts since November as well as other easing measures.
"The economy hasn't yet bottomed out," said Song Qiuhong, an analyst at Shunde Rural Commercial Bank Co in Guangdong province's Foshan city. "The central bank has the incentive to keep rates low." Elsewhere strong US jobs figures increased the chances of a US interest rate hike before the end of the year, which hit Wall Street, and also overshadowed an upward revision of Japanese economic growth.
The US Labour Department said on Friday the world's biggest economy and key driver of global growth created 280,000 jobs in May.
The figure was far better than forecast and follows a slow start to the year that saw a first-quarter economic contraction partly because of severe winter weather.
The report also showed better wage growth, in an indication of tightening in the jobs market.
However, while the news suggests the recovery is back on track, it also gives the Fed more ammunition to start raising rates again, weighing on US equities.
GREEK REFORM TALKS ROW
The Dow shed 0.31 per cent and the S&P 500 dropped 0.14 per cent while the Nasdaq added 0.18 per cent.
The dollar also surged, hitting 125.86 yen at one point, its highest level since June 2002, before easing slightly.
In Tokyo on Monday the greenback was at 125.33 yen.
"Investors have to be prepared for a US rate hike this year given that the US economy has been doing pretty well," Khiem Do, head of multi-asset strategy at Baring Asset Management Ltd, told Bloomberg News.
"There are a number of uncertainties out there, especially since equities have performed very well this year." The yen won a measure of support from figures showing Japan's economy grew 1.0 percent in the first quarter, up from an initial estimate of a 0.6 percent expansion.
The news suggested the Bank of Japan (BoJ) would wait to unveil further monetary stimulus, which would tend to weaken the yen.
The euro was at US$1.1156 and 139.82 yen on Monday from US$1.1115 and 139.56 yen in US trade although traders remain concerned about Greece's debt reform talks as Athens and its creditors bicker over the latest demands from Brussels.
European Commission President Juncker, at a Group of Seven summit in Germany, accused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of failing to respect "minimal rules" in their negotiations and of failing to deliver a promised list of alternative reforms.
Greece has until the end of the month to agree a deal that will unlock billions of euros in bailout cash it badly needs to repay its debts, and there are fears that a default could see the country tumble out of the eurozone.
Oil prices were lower. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery fell 47 cents to US$58.66 while Brent crude for July eased 42 cents to US$62.89 in afternoon trade.
Gold fetched US$1,174.05 compared with US$1,174.44 late Friday.
Taipei rose 0.30 per cent, or 28.30 points, to 9,368.43.