Focus on China economic data, Party Congress, currencies

Third-quarter GDP showed the Chinese economy grew 6.8 percent compared to a year ago, meeting analyst expectations. That was a touch softer than the 6.9 percent growth seen in the second quarter of the year.

Other data releases were mixed. China’s industrial production increased 6.6 percent in September compared to one year ago, beating the 6.2 percent forecast in a Reuters poll. September retail sales also topped expectations, increasing by 10.3 percent compared to the previous year, above the 10.2 percent forecast. Fixed asset investment for the month, however, came up short.

“[W]ith the GDP coming in on consensus, whatever bullish sentiment the markets were positioned for an upside surprise after [People’s Bank of China Governor] Zhou Xiaochuan’s comments … that the economy could grow 7 percent in the second half of the year should get priced out quickly,” said Stephen Innes, APAC head of trading at OANDA, in a note.

Zhou, who had made those comments earlier on Monday, warned Thursday that China would deflect risks resulting from unrestrained optimism to prevent a collapse in asset prices, Reuters reported.

Following the release, the Australian dollar pared gains made after stronger-than-expected employment data released earlier in the day. Employment rose by 19,800 compared to a projected increase of 15,000, Reuters reported. The Aussie dollar traded at $0.7854 at 1:02 p.m. HK/SIN, a touch firmer on the day but below a session high of $0.7871 seen earlier.

In other economic news, growth in Japan’s exports and imports came in just short of forecasts. Government data showed the country’s exports increased 14.1 percent in September compared to a year ago, short of the 14.9 percent forecast in a Reuters poll. Japan’s imports rose 12 percent in the same period, below the 15 percent median forecast.

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The dollar was touch firmer against the yen on the day at 112.98, although it traded at levels above the 113 handle before the data release.

Also in currencies, the New Zealand dollar was on the back foot as the country awaited an announcement about a coalition government. The Kiwi dollar traded at $0.7105 at 1:15 p.m. HK/SIN, off levels around the $0.715 handle in the last session.

Stateside, robust quarterly earnings reports propelled the Dow’s close above the 23,000 level for the first time on Wednesday. The index closed up 0.7 percent, or 160.16 points, to end at 23,157.60. The Dow first cracked the 23,000 mark on Tuesday, but had closed just under that level. Other major U.S. indexes notched slight gains

Yields on U.S. Treasury notes were mostly steady after rising overnight following economic releases, including the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, stateside. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note stood at 2.3411 percent compared to Wednesday’s 2.3447 percent.

Meanwhile, yields on the 2-year Treasury bill touched their highest levels in around 10 years overnight, supported by comments from New York Fed President William Dudley that the central bank was on course to meeting its interest rate forecast for 2017.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, extended losses to stand at 93.347 at 1:01 p.m. HK/SIN, after edging down overnight on uninspiring U.S. economic data.

On the energy front, oil prices were steady. Brent crude lost 0.02 percent to trade at $58.14 a barrel and U.S. crude futures slid 0.06 percent to trade at $52.01.

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In central bank-related news, the Bank of Korea kept rates on hold, as was widely expected. Ahead, Indonesia’s central bank will make its interest rates decision at 5:00 p.m.