Asian stocks ended Wednesday’s session broadly higher despite weak data from China and worries about the worsening Covid-19 situation in the country. Investors also awaited U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech later in the day for interest rate clues.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index fluctuated before finishing marginally higher at 3,151.34 as hopes of China eventually reopening its economy offset disappointing factory and services sector data.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rallied 2.2 percent to 18,597.23 after surging more than 5 percent in the previous session.
China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 48.0 in November from 49.2 in October, while the non-manufacturing PMI dropped to 48.0 from 49.2, separate reports from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.
Japanese shares fell for a fourth straight session as weak industrial production data added to jitters surrounding ongoing protests in China against strict pandemic curbs.
Industrial production fell 2.6 percent in October from the prior month as a result of stalling global demand and lingering supply bottlenecks, data showed earlier today. Analysts had expected a drop of 1.5 percent.
The Nikkei 225 Index slipped 0.2 percent to 27,968.99, while the broader Topix closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,985.57. Utility Tokyo Electric Power and contact lens maker Menicon both lost over 3 percent.
Seoul stocks extended gains from the previous session amid hopes that China could loosen Covid-19 restrictions.
The Kospi rallied 1.6 percent to settle at 2,472.53. Among the top gainers, POSCO Holdings, Samsung Electronics, LG Energy Solution and LG Electronics jumped 2-4 percent.
South Korea’s industrial output fell by the most in 30 months in October, data showed earlier today. Retail sales also dipped, while facility investment remained nearly unchanged from a month earlier.
Australian stocks ended modestly higher as higher base metal and energy prices boosted mining and energy stocks.
A drop in the inflation rate in October and an unexpected decline in retail sales boosted hopes that the Reserve Bank may pause its tightening cycle.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent to 7,284.20, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended 0.5 percent higher at 7.480.70.
Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index jumped 1.4 percent to 11,552.04.
U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as Chinese health officials defended the country’s zero-Covid policy at a press briefing but said lockdowns would be lifted “as quickly as possible.”
The Dow ended flat with a positive bias, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.6 percent to end lower for a third straight day.
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