Asia shares rise after positive US manufacturing data

Asia shares rise after positive US manufacturing data

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday, taking their cue from another record close on Wall Street following improved manufacturing data in the United States and China.

The dollar held steady while the euro continued to face pressure ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank meeting amid concerns over eurozone deflation.

Tokyo closed up 0.66 per cent, or 98.33 points, at 15,034.25, the first time the benchmark index has crossed the 15,000 mark in the last two months.

Seoul rose 0.33 per cent, or 6.56 points, to close at 2,008.56 while Sydney fell 0.70 per cent, or 38.76 points, to close at 5,479.70.

Hong Kong closed 0.91 per cent higher, or 209.39 points, at 23,291.04 while Shanghai edged down 0.04 per cent, or 0.90 points, to 2,038.31.

Markets have taken heart from improved manufacturing output in the world's two largest economies.

On Tuesday HSBC said manufacturing activity in China improved in May. The British banking giant's purchasing managers index (PMI), which tracks activity in the nation's factories and workshops, came in at 49.4 in May.

The figure was lower than a preliminary reading of 49.7 but improved from 48.1 in April and the highest reading since January's 49.5.

PMI data is a closely watched indicator of the health of a country's economy, and a reading above 50 indicates growth.

Over the weekend, Beijing's own National Bureau of Statistics gave a more optimistic PMI of 50.8 for May.

India, Australia hold rates

In the United States, meanwhile, the Institute of Supply Management said Monday its purchasing managers index of US manufacturing activity rose in May to 55.4 from 54.9 in April, rather than slowing to 53.2 as it first reported.

The figures, which were corrected after a software error, gave an unexpected mid-session lift to the US stock market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.16 per cent, or 26.46 points to 16,743.63 while the S&P 500 added 0.07 per cent, or 1.40 points, to end at 1,924.97 - closing records for the third straight session.

Both Australia and India's central banks kept interest rates on hold Tuesday, with the former hoping to transition away from mining-led growth and the latter trying to stave off rising inflation.

It was the first monetary policy decision from India's hawkish central bank since the recent election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Meanwhile, traders are keeping a close eye on Europe with investors fretting ahead of the European Central Bank's meeting this week.

ECB watchers predicted a cut in the central bank's key interest rates and possibly new measures to pump liquidity into the banking system.

In foreign exchange trade the greenback fetched 102.33 yen (S$1.256), little changed from 102.36 yen in New York Monday afternoon, having made up ground from its 102.02 yen level in Tokyo earlier in the day.

A weak yen is positive for Japanese exporters as it makes them more competitive abroad and increases profits when repatriated.

The euro ticked up slightly to US$1.3601 and 139.24 yen on Tuesday against US$1.3595 and 139.19 yen in US trade.

Oil prices inched higher. The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in July gained 15 cents to US$102.62 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for July was up 11 cents to US$108.94 in afternoon trading.

Gold fetched US$1,246.83 an ounce at 1130 GMT compared to US$1,244.75 late Monday in Europe.

Singapore closed 0.17 per cent lower, or 5.57 points, to 3,296.67.

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