China shares test seven-year highs

CHINA, March 30: Asian shares got off to a positive start in a holiday-shortened week with Chinese shares leading the region’s gains on stimulus hopes.

The Shanghai Composite was up 2.4% to 3,779.13, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 1.7% higher at 24,907.42.

Mainland shares tested highs last seen in May 2008 as Beijing unveiled plans to construct a modern Silk Road to improve links to Europe and Africa.

Investors awaited more infrastructure spending and policy easing.

Greater China shares were also up after China allowed mainland mutual funds to buy Hong Kong stocks via the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect.

In Japan, shares were up despite negative factory production data, which showed the biggest drop in output since June 2014.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 0.7% at 19,411.4.

Industrial output fell 3.4% in February from the previous month as companies curbed production due to the Lunar New Year holidays.

The dollar was at 119.19 yen, compared with 119.14 yen in New York trade on Friday.

Resources weigh

Australian shares headed lower with resource stocks weighing on the benchmark index due to record low iron ore prices and sliding oil prices


Iron ore prices hit fresh all-time lows on oversupply worries, while the price of oil tumbled 5% on Friday.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed down 1.3% 5846.1, its lowest since 18 March.

Shares of Caltex Australia plunged as much as 10.2% after US energy giant Chevron sold its entire stake in the refiner for $3.6bn (£2.4bn), becoming the latest global energy player to exit Australia’s refining industry. It closed down 9.1%.

In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi index ended higher 0.5% to 2,030.04 points.

Investors ignored central bank data that showed manufacturing sentiment fell for April, highlighting uneven confidence among businesses.