SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets moved mostly higher on Thursday as upbeat factory data from China boosted investor sentiment.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 2.3 per cent to 18,727.25 while South Korea’s Kospi was nearly flat at 1,982.69. China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.5 per cent to 3,264.96 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.7 per cent to 22,941.13. Stocks in Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries were also higher.
CHINA DATA: The monthly purchasing managers’ index by the Chinese Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed that Chinese factory activity rose again to 51.7 in November, its highest in more than two years. The index, a widely watched indicator of China’s outsize manufacturing sector, is based on a 100-point scale with numbers below 50 indicating contraction.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “China’s official PMI manufacturing surprised on the upside,” said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore. “This is the highest level seen since July 2014 and could add to the wave of optimism in the markets today.”
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished mostly lower Wednesday as gains in blue-chip energy companies and banks were not enough to make up for losses in the broader market. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 5.85 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,198.81 and the Nasdaq composite dropped 56.24 points, or 1.1 points, to 5,323.68. The 30-member Dow Jones industrial average closed up 1.98 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 19,123.58.
OIL: Oil prices were mixed after they surged on Wednesday thanks to the output cut agreement among OPEC nations, which collectively produce more than one-third of the world’s oil. They agreed to trim production by 1.2 million barrels a day starting in January. The price of U.S. crude lost 8 cents to $49.36 a barrel in New York. The contract surged $4.21, or 9.3 per cent, to close at $49.44 a barrel on Wednesday, the biggest one-day gain since February. Brent crude, the international benchmark, gained 6 cents to $51.90 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 114.48 yen from 114.44 yen. The euro was flat at $1.0595.