China's producer price index (PPI) rose 7.8% in February from a year earlier, slightly more than analysts' estimates of 7.7%, and at the fastest pace since September 2008 per the National Bureau of Statistics. These gains were mainly driven by the mining and heavy industry, which witnessed a gain of 36.1%. Iron ore and steel prices have been increasing in China for over a year, due to the construction boom. Even though surveys indicate that manufacturers were able to pass on some of the higher costs to end consumers by raising prices, there is little to no evidence of it yet.
The consumer price index (CPI) rose just 0.8% year over year in February, which was half of analysts' estimates of 1.7%, and down from 2.5% in January. This was mainly due to a sharp fall in food prices, down 4.3% year over year, owing to Lunar New Year celebrations.
Asian markets tumbled in response to the release of price index data. Markets across China, Hong Kong, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan each saw declines on March 8, 2017. Japan was the only winner after a weaker yen spurred gains in Japanese equities due to better-than-expected U.S private jobs data.
However, China posted its first monthly trade deficit in three years, with exports falling 1.3% and imports rising 38.1%. The trade deficit was to the tune of $9.2 billion.
Following the upbeat trade data, markets across Asia staged a recovery, flushing away previous losses. However, the news of a big buildup in oil inventories in the U.S sent major Asian markets to the red again at the close of trade on March 9, 2017.
Following South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment ruling on March 10, 2017, markets picked up steam. South Korean Kospi gained 0.17%, Shanghai Composite was down 0.03%, and Hang Seng was down 0.8%. ASX 200 was in the green zone with a 0.56% gain. Japan's Nikkei 225 was sharply up, staging a gain of 1.25% owing to a weaker yen.
Keeping the current scenario in mind, the following ETFs with significant exposure to Asian equities are in focus: