HONG KONG – Asian stocks edged higher on Tuesday following a Wall Street rally powered by positive earnings reports but the mood was still cautious before a report on Chinese manufacturing and possible sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.
Investors in Asia were heartened after the U.S. stock market turned in its longest winning streak in half a year as earnings season kicked off with companies such as toymaker Hasbro and online video service Netflix reporting healthy profits.
But sentiment in Asia was weighed by a preliminary report by HSBC on activity in China’s huge manufacturing sector expected Wednesday that could provide further evidence of a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Oil slipped but stayed above $104 barrel amid the tension in Ukraine. The U.S. has warned it will quickly order new economic sanctions on Russian officials and entities if Moscow doesn’t follow through on provisions in an accord last week aimed at stemming the crisis.
“In terms of the global picture, the healthy outlook in the U.S. continues to overshadow the simmering tensions in Ukraine, as well as Chinese growth concerns,” said William Leys, sales trader at CMC Markets in Sydney.
Asian trading was also quieter because of a holiday-shortened week that includes Easter Monday in some markets and Anzac Day on Friday in Australia and New Zealand.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 benchmark index rose 0.3 per cent to 14,556.52 while South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1 per cent higher to 2,000.60.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.4 per cent to 22,684.27 while the Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.4 per cent to 2,058.57 on concerns about China’s growth ahead of the HSBC report.
Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.5 per cent to 5,479.00. Benchmarks in Singapore and Taiwan rose but in New Zealand they slipped.
On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.4 per cent to 1,871.89, the fifth straight day it has risen, making it the longest streak of gains since October. The Dow climbed 0.3 per cent to 16,449.25 and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.6 per cent to 4,121.55.
Oil shed 12 cents to $104.25 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid concern about tensions in Ukraine, where violence continued as U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in a high-profile visit to push for urgent implementation to defuse tensions. Concern that Russian gas supplies could be disrupted if sanctions are imposed helped push the contract up 7 cents in the previous session to settle at $104.37.
In currency markets, the U.S. dollar gained 0.1 per cent to 102.66 yen and the euro was up marginally at $1.3796.