Asia stock markets mixed amid Chinese property sector sell-off

By Scott Murdoch

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asia stock markets started to turn positive later on Monday even though investors in China sold off shares in property developers, remaining unconvinced by authorities’ efforts to revive activity in the mainland real estate market.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed earlier losses and was up 0.3%, after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with mild gains.

Australian shares gained 0.36% and Japan’s Nikkei stock index slid 0.49%.

The yen appreciated sharply against the dollar after Bank of Japan governor Kazuo Ueda stoked hopes the central bank could soon see a shift away from negative rates.

The dollar on Monday dropped 1.12% to 146.16 yen and it remains some way off its high this year of 147.87 reached earlier this month.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index halved its loss from earlier in the day to be off 0.66% by the afternoon session, as investors remained wary of China’s troubled property sector.

A more positive tone was seen across futures markets which pointed towards a better start for most major European indexes.

In early trades, Euro Stoxx 50 futures were up 0.26%, German DAX futures were up 0.17% and FTSE futures were up 0.29%

U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were up 0.24% at 4,472.3.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Property Index, a gauge of Hong Kong’s top developers, was still down 3.24% while the mainland property index was off 1.9%. It was earlier more than 3% in the red.

“We need the property market to stabilize first in order for any meaningful kind of economic rebound to happen in China,” said David Chao, Invesco’s Asia Pacific market strategist.

In recent weeks China’s authorities – including the housing ministry, central bank and financial regulator – have rolled out a series of measures, such as easing borrowing rules, to support the debt-riddled property sector, and there are some expectations for more steps to revive demand in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

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Hong Kong stocks were also dampened as e-commerce giant Alibaba Group dropped 2.5% on the…

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