Asian markets rise, China manufacturing picks up

Asian markets rise, China manufacturing picks up

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly climbed Thursday as Chinese manufacturing data indicated the economy continues to pick up, while the euro extended its gains on hopes a deal on Greece's bailout will be agreed.

Japanese shares closed at a six-month high as the yen weakened further against the dollar and euro on expectations the country's central bank will unveil fresh monetary easing measures.

Tokyo soared 1.56 per cent, or 144.28 points, to 9,366.80 to finish at their highest level since early May.

Traders have been selling the Japanese unit since Shinzo Abe, the country's opposition leader and the man likely to become prime minister after next month's election, said he would press for unlimited monetary easing to lift the economy.

Expectations have been boosted this week by the central bank's downcast outlook for near-term growth and the worst October trade figures for 30 years.

Seoul rose 0.82 per cent, or 15.46 points, to 1,899.50 while Sydney climbed 1.00 per cent, or 43.6 points, to finish at 4,431.1.

Hong Kong closed 1.02 per cent higher, adding 218.84 points to end at 21,743.20 but Shanghai fell 0.72 per cent, or 14.71 points, to 2,015.61.

The loss in China was despite banking giant HSBC saying the country's manufacturing activity grew for the first time in more than a year in November, reinforcing recent views that the economy is beginning to pick up after several months of slowdown.

The bank's purchasing managers' index (PMI) stood at 50.4 this month, compared with 49.5 in October. Anything above 50 points to growth and anything below indicates contraction.

It is the first reading above 50 since October 2011 and adds to a slew of upbeat trade, investment and sales figures released this month and last that have fuelled optimism.

"This confirms that the economic recovery continues to gain momentum towards the year end," Qu Hongbin, HSBC's chief economist for China, said in the bank's release.

"An improvement in economic data doesn't necessarily mean a commensurate improvement in corporate earnings," Capital Securities analyst Jacky Zhang told Dow Jones Newswires.

In forex trade the dollar bought 82.54 yen from 82.51 yen late Wednesday in New York, while the euro was at 105.97 yen from 105.84 yen. The euro also fetched $1.2840, from $1.2826.

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