Asian stocks mostly boosted by strong China data

Asian stocks mostly boosted by strong China data
This picture taken in Jakarta on September 2, 2013 shows an Indonesian worker walking next to a screen featuring market trading information at the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) in Jakarta.

HONG KONG - Asian shares mostly rallied on Monday after strong manufacturing data indicated a slowdown in China may be coming to an end, while the dollar climbed back towards the 100 yen mark.

Easing concerns about a possible military strike on Syria also lifted sentiment and reduced worries over crude oil supplies, sending prices lower.

Hong Kong climbed 2.04 per cent, or 443.97 points, to 22,175.34, while Shanghai nudged up 0.07 points to 2,098.45 and Tokyo added 1.37 per cent, or 184.06 points, to 13,572.92.

Sydney advanced 1.03 per cent, or 53.3 points, to 5,188.3 but Seoul was flat, edging down 1.55 points to 1,924.81.

Data Saturday showed China's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) of manufacturing hit 51.0 last month, up from 50.3 in July and the best reading since April last year. Anything above 50 indicates growth, while anything below signals contraction.

On Monday HSBC confirmed its own PMI came in at 50.1.

The news provided some much-needed support for regional markets after last month's major sell-off - particularly among emerging markets - caused by fears the US Federal Reserve will soon start to wind down its stimulus programme.

China however lowered its figure for economic growth for last year to 7.7 per cent from 7.8 Monday evening, an unexpected downgrade that came after markets had closed.

GDP stood at 51.9 trillion yuan (S$10.8 trillion) for 2012, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

In forex trade the dollar climbed to 99.24 yen (S$1.272) from 98.16 yen on Friday in New York, having sunk to below 97 yen at one point last week.

The euro bought US$1.3216 (S$1.68) and 131.17 yen compared with US$1.3218 and 129.82 yen. India's rupee weakened against the dollar after data Friday showed the economy grew just 4.4 per cent in the April-June quarter, below expectations.

In afternoon trade it was sitting at 66.12 to the greenback, compared with 65.70 late Friday, when the central bank is reported to have stepped in to support the unit.

However, the currency is much stronger than the levels around 69 seen in the middle of last week.

Regional sentiment was also helped by lower expectations of a US-led intervention in Syria after its alleged chemical attack on its own civilians last month.

Global shares and currencies were hammered last week as dealers bet on a targeted strike, which they feared would spark a wider regional conflict.

However, Britain's parliament rejected such a move last week, while on Saturday US President Barack Obama broke with decades of precedent to say he would seek approval from Congress for action - meaning nothing was likely to happen imminently.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, eased US$1.46 to US$106.19 a barrel in afternoon trade. Brent North Sea crude for October fell US$1.01 to US$113.00.

Gold cost US$1,390.00 an ounce at 1045 GMT, down from US$1,395.50 late Friday.

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