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Asian markets shrug off bleak US data, Chinese shares drop

BANGKOK – Shares were higher Monday in Asia, as investors shrugged off disappointing growth data from the U.S. and lacklustre but better-than-expected manufacturing figures for China.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.4 per cent to 16,635.77 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 1.4 per cent to 22,195.23. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.7 per cent to 2,029.59 and Australia’s A&P ASX/200 rose 0.5 per cent, to 5,587.40. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.3 per cent to 2,942.38 and shares in Southeast Asia and Taiwan were higher.

WALL STREET: Stocks were mostly higher on Friday, helped by better-than-expected quarterly results from Google’s parent Alphabet and retailer Amazon and a modest recovery in oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.1 per cent to 18,432.24, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.2 per cent to 2,173.60 and the Nasdaq composite added 0.1 per cent to 5,162.13.

CHINA MANUFACTURING: Two surveys show manufacturing activity in July was weak, but better than some forecasters had expected. A business magazine, Caixin, said Monday its purchasing managers index rose to 50.6 from June’s 48.6 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show expansion. The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, an industry group, said its separate PMI edged down to 49.9 in July from 50 in June.

THE QUOTE: “Today’s better-than-expected PMI data are consistent with our view that we should see a policy-driven pick-up in growth during the second half of this year,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary. “Admittedly, unresolved structural issues mean this pick-up is on borrowed time and we still expect growth to slow again next year. Nonetheless, with the delayed impact of stronger credit growth still feeding through to the real economy, we expect further improvement in the data out of China in the short-run.”

U.S. DATA DISAPPOINT: The U.S. Commerce Department reported the growth in the April-June quarter was only 1.2 per cent, below expectations for over 2.1 per cent. Durable goods figures were also weak. But a relatively weak performance may lift the spirits of investors hoping to see the U.S. Federal Reserve hold back on its next interest rate hike.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 16 cents to $41.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday it reversed earlier losses to close up 46 cents at $41.60. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 19 cents to $43.72. On Friday it gained 30 cents to $43.53 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 102.49 yen from 102.09 yen on Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1170 from $1.1073.