Asian stock markets rise as weak China manufacturing report also shows overseas demand rising

By , on March 23, 2014


SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets were higher Monday as investors focused on signs of strengthening overseas demand in an otherwise weak China manufacturing survey.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225, the regional heavyweight, rose 1.8 per cent to 14,484.06 after a three-day long weekend. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1 per cent to 21,648.91 and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3 per cent to 1,941.29.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.5 per cent to 2,057.71. Markets in Southeast Asia also rose. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was little changed.

The preliminary version of HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index dropped to 48.1 in March from February’s 48.5. Readings below 50 on the 100-point scale indicate a contraction in activity. Factory output shrank at the fastest clip in 18 months.

But the survey had a bright spot that for investors may have outweighed the signs of weakness in China’s domestic economy. It showed that new orders from overseas export customers rose, spelling a recovery in overseas demand.

Wall Street retreated Friday. The S&P 500 slipped 5.49 points, or 0.3 per cent, to close at 1,866.52. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 28.28 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 16,302.70. The Nasdaq composite dropped 42.50 points, or 1 per cent, to 4,276.79.

Benchmark crude oil for May delivery was down 21 cents to $99.25 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 56 cents to settle at $99.46 on Friday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3802 from $1.3794 late Friday. The dollar rose to 102.47 yen from 102.26 yen.