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Asia-Pacific Stocks Mixed; Australia Economy Bounces Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels in the First Quarter

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  • Australia's gross domestic product rose 1.8% from last quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis in the first three months of the year, according to official data released Wednesday. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a 1.5% increase.
  • Investors monitored shares of Toyota and Honda following reports that the automakers have temporarily suspended production in Malaysia due to the country's lockdown.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday, with official data showing higher-than-expected growth in Australia's economy for the first quarter.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan gained 0.46% to close at 28,946.14 while the Topix index climbed 0.84% to finish the trading day at 1,942.33. In South Korea, the Kospi closed nearly 0.1% higher at 3,224.23.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed about 0.6%, as of its final hour of trading. Mainland Chinese stocks declined on the day as the Shanghai composite fell 0.76% to 3,597.14 and the Shenzhen component slipped 1.176% to 14,857.91.

Meanwhile, Australian stocks advanced, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 1.05% higher at 7,217.80.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.35%.

In corporate developments, shares of Japan's Toyota rose 2.18% and while Honda soared by 4.55%. The gains came despite reports that the automakers have temporarily suspended production in Malaysia due to country's lockdown, which started Tuesday.

Other Japanese automakers also saw gains, with Mazda jumping 4.46% while Mitsubishi Motors rose 3.23%.

Australia's economy grows in first quarter

Australia's gross domestic product rose 1.8% from last quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis in the first three months of the year, according to official data released Wednesday. That compared against expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.5% increase.

"With 1.8% growth in the March quarter 2021, Australian economic activity has recovered to be above pre-pandemic levels and has grown 1.1% through the year," Michael Smedes, head of national accounts at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, said in a media release. 

Following the data release, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7734, still stronger than levels below $0.772 seen earlier this week.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 89.987 following an earlier low of 89.857.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.76 per dollar, stronger than levels around 109.6 seen against the greenback yesterday.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.77% to $70.79 per barrel. U.S. crude futures advanced 0.62% to $68.14 per barrel.

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