Asian Shares Mostly Higher On China Optimism

Business

Asian stocks turned in a muted performance on Monday, even as Chinese and Hong Kong stocks surged as businesses reopened and testing requirements were relaxed in several cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index ended 1.8 percent higher at 3,211.81, as easing of Covid-19 curbs helped outweigh disappointing service sector data, with the Caixin/S&P Global services purchasing managers’ index shrinking to its lowest level since May.

Hong Kong shares led regional gains, with the benchmark Hang Seng Index soaring 4.5 percent to 19,518.29 led by tech stocks.

Japanese shares ended slightly higher as the yen stabilized around technical levels and a survey showed the services sector in Japan continued to expand in November, albeit at a slower rate. The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 0.2 percent to 27,820.40, while the broader Topix closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,947.90.

Fast Retailing rallied 3.1 percent after the clothing store operator unveiled November sales figures. Robot maker Fanuc and cosmetic maker Shiseido both jumped around 3 percent on China reopening hopes.

Seoul stocks fell notably as a stronger-than-anticipated U.S. jobs report released on Friday revived worries about the pace of U.S. rate hikes. The Kospi fell 0.6 percent to 2,419.32, with tech and auto stocks pacing the declines.

Australian markets eked out modest gains despite weak readings on the country’s service sector and gross company profits.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.3 percent to 7,325.60 ahead of the RBA decision on Tuesday, with analysts expecting another modest 25-basis point rate hike. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended 0.3 percent higher at 7,527.80.

Mining and energy stocks topped the gainers list on China optimism, while banks ended on a subdued note.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.3 percent to 11,677.75, marking its highest level since September 15.

U.S. stocks ended narrowly mixed on Friday as robust jobs data added to uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates.

Non-farm payroll employment beat expectations, adding 263,000 jobs in November, led by the service sector.

While the jobless rate held steady at 3.7 percent, the retail trade and transportation and warehousing categories both lost jobs last month, highlighting weak spots in the economy.

The Dow inched up 0.1 percent, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.1 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eased 0.2 percent.

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