Asian stocks higher as China PMI lifts Shanghai
HONG KONG—Asian markets mostly rose Thursday, with another poor reading of Chinese manufacturing lifting Shanghai on hopes for further stimulus while a weaker yen boosted Japanese exporters.
Wall Street pushed higher on the back of strong house sales data, which also supported the dollar, while the euro was weighed down by worries about Greece’s future in the eurozone.
Tokyo added 0.27 percent, or 53.75 points, to finish at 20,187.65, while Sydney rose 0.13 percent, or 7.3 points, to close at 5,844.8 and Seoul climbed 1.38 percent, or 29.52 points, to 2,173.41.
Shanghai finished 0.36 percent, or 16.01 points, higher at 4,414.51 but Hong Kong, which has enjoyed a huge rally recently, eased 0.38 percent, or 106.15 points, to 27,827.70.
HSBC said its preliminary purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of manufacturing activity in China had slipped to a 12-month low in April, the latest data to show the world’s No. 2 economy slowing.
The reading of 49.2 is down from the 49.6 seen in March and well below the 50 break-even point that separates growth from expansion.
The result led higher on hopes the Chinese authorities will introduce more monetary easing measures.
Expectations for further loosening have seen mainland investors pile into equities, doubling the value of Shanghai over the past year and now helping Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index to levels not seen since the end of 2007.
“I expect Chinese indices to continue their out-performance in the coming few months,” Stan Shamu, a markets strategist at IG Ltd in Melbourne, wrote to clients, according to Bloomberg News.
“China has a double equity positive: monetary and fiscal stimulus coupled with fundamentals in the likes of the H-shares and the Hang Seng that are cheap compared to historical measures and regional peers.
“The mass inflows into equities look like continuing almost unabated.”
H-shares are shares of firms incorporated in China that are listed in Hong Kong.
US data supports dollar
Asian shares were given a positive lead by New York, where the Dow rose 0.49 percent, the S&P added 0.51 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.42 percent on Wednesday.
US dealers’ confidence was lifted after data showed existing-home sales rebounded in March to the fastest pace in 18 months, pointing to solid spring sales this year.
The news gave a boost to the dollar. In afternoon Asian trade it was buying 119.85 yen, slightly down from 119.89 yen in New York but higher than the 119.54 yen in Tokyo earlier Wednesday.
It touched 120.10 yen briefly Thursday morning.
The euro dipped ahead of a meeting between eurozone finance ministers in Latvia at the end of the week, buying $1.0703 and 128.28 yen against $1.0725 and 128.58 yen in US trade.
The single currency has been slowly heading lower as Greece battles to raise cash to service its debts, while also haggling with creditors over reforms to its bailout.
Analysts warn Athens may have only weeks left before defaulting and possibly exiting the eurozone unless it reaches a deal with the EU and IMF to unlock 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout loans.
Oil prices were lower, with US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery falling 26 cent to $55.90 while Brent crude for June eased 31 cents to $62.42.
Gold fetched $1,189.92 against $1,199.00 late Wednesday.
In other markets:
— Taipei rose 1.92 percent, or 184.49 points, to 9,797.49.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. added 2.44 percent to Tw$147.0 while smartphone maker HTC was 1.56 percent higher at Tw$130.0.
— Wellington skidded 0.62 percent, or 35.71 points, to 5,757.91.
Fletcher Building was down 1.68 percent at NZ$8.17 and Spark sank 1.58 percent to NZ$6.11.
— Manila gained 0.75 percent, or 59.02 points, to 7,892.05.
SM Prime Holdings was up 2.83 percent at 19.64 pesos and Universal Robina closed 0.92 percent higher at 219 pesos but Metrobank fell 1.77 percent to 97.25 pesos.
— Jakarta was flat, edging down 0.91 points to 5,436.21.
Lender Bank Rakyat Indonesia fell 0.95 percent to 13,050 rupiah while palm oil producer Astra Agro Lestari rose 0.11 percent to 23,075 rupiah.
— Kuala Lumpur slipped 0.47 percent, or 8.69 points, to 1,846.08.
Public Bank lost 0.20 percent to 19.58 ringgit, Sime Darby dipped 0.22 percent to 9.25 ringgit while Maybank added 0.98 percent 9.25 ringgit.
— Singapore rose 0.19 percent, or 6.51 points, to 3,502.75.
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation gained 0.84 percent to Sg$10.83 and Singapore Telecom rose 0.46 percent to Sg$4.35.
— Bangkok closed down 0.46 percent, or 7.17 points, at 1,552.01.
Supermarket chain Big C lost 3.42 percent to close at 226 baht and Siam Commercial Bank also dipped 2.03 percent, ending on 169 baht.
— Mumbai fell 0.56 percent, or 155.11 points, to 27,735.02.
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries fell 2.55 percent to 942.45 rupees, while Tata Steel rose five percent to 368.70 rupees.