Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Monday, as Chinese data proved to be a mixed bag and investors avoided big bets ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting this week.
China’s official manufacturing purchasing manager’s index (PMI) dropped to 49.2, from 49.6 in September, shrinking for a second month due to higher raw material prices and softer domestic demand.
However, a private survey showed Chinese manufacturing activity growth in October expanded, with the Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI coming in at 50.6.
China’s Shanghai Composite index finished marginally lower at 3,544.48, amid fears that travel restrictions could be tightened in coming weeks ahead of the upcoming Spring Festival travel rush. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 222.92 points, or 0.88 per cent, to 25,154.32.
Japanese shares rallied to reach a one-month high after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held on to power comfortably, paving the way for further fiscal stimulus measures.
“I want to make full use of this both in running the government and running parliament,” Kishida told a press conference.
Investors also cheered data showing that the manufacturing sector in Japan expanded at a faster pace in October. The Nikkei average surged 754.39 points, or 2.61 per cent, to settle at 29,647.08, while the broader Topix index ended 2.18 per cent higher, at 2,044.72.
Market heavyweight SoftBank advanced 2.7 per cent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing soared 4.2 per cent. Automakers Toyota Motor, Nissan, Mazda Motor and Honda Motor climbed 2-4 per cent on the back of a weaker yen.
Australian markets rose notably after the government eased curbs on international travel. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 47.10 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 7,370.80 ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monthly policy meeting on Tuesday. The broader All Ordinaries index ended up 53.10 points, or 0.70 per cent, at 7,692.20.
Travel and tourism stocks rallied, with Webjet and Qantas rising 2-3 percent as the country allowed some of its vaccinated public to travel freely after more than 18 months.
Technology stocks followed their US peers higher, with WiseTech Global surging as much as 5.5 per cent. Lender Westpac slumped 7.4 per cent after the lender delivered a smaller share buyback than many had expected.
Seoul stocks eked out modest gains to snap a three-day losing streak after exports showed posted solid gains to expand for a 12th consecutive month in October, but a measure of factory activity growth hit a 13-month low in the month.
The benchmark Kospi inched up 8.26 points, or 0.28 per cent, to close at 2,978.94. Chipmaker SK Hynix jumped 3.4 per cent, despite a fall in DRAM prices.
New Zealand markets started the month on a weak note, with the benchmark NZX-50 index finishing down 69.51 points, or 0.53 per cent, at 13,030.31.
Transport stocks led losses, with Auckland Airport, Air New Zealand and Mainfreight declining 1-2 per cent.
US stocks eked out modest gains on Friday to reach new record closing highs despite disappointing earnings results from technology giants Apple and Amazon and data showing a gain in employment costs and consumer inflation for September.
The Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose around 0.3 per cent each, while the S&P 500 inched up 0.2 per cent.