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Asian Markets Advance as Investors Analyze Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index

Stocks in Asia-Pacific were little changed in Thursday trade as investors reacted to the release of a private survey on China’s services sector activity in November.

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite down about 0.1% while the Shenzhen component gained 0.149%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index advanced 0.56%.

The Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers’ Index for November released Thursday came in at 57.8, rising from October’s reading of 56.8.

PMI readings above the 50 mark signify expansion, while those below that level represent contraction. PMI readings are sequential and show month-on-month expansion or contraction.

Earlier this week, China’s official PMI data showed that services sector activity expanded for the ninth straight month. The official non-manufacturing PMI reading for November was 56.4, as compared with 56.2, according to data from the statistics bureau.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was flat while the Topix index hovered advanced 0.14%.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.18%. Markets in the country opened an hour later than usual on Thursday because of the College Scholastic Ability Test.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.38%. Australia’s seasonally adjusted balance of goods and services saw a surplus of 7.456 billion Australian dollars in October (approx. $5.52 billion), according to the country’s Bureau of Statistics. That was higher than an expected surplus of 5.8 billion Australian dollars in a Reuters poll.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.39% higher.

Investors also monitored developments on U.S. coronavirus stimulus negotiations, as lawmakers race to pass a pandemic relief package before the end of the year. That comes as more than 100,000 people are currently in hospitals across the country with Covid-19.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 nudged 0.2% higher to 3,669.01 — its second straight record close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 59.87 points to end its trading day at 29,883.79 while the Nasdaq Composite closed 0.1% lower at 12,349.37.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.964 following its decline earlier this week from levels above 91.6.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.44 per dollar, having seen levels around 104.7 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7408, following levels below $0.738 seen yesterday.

Oil prices dipped in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures fractionally lower at $48.21 per barrel. U.S. crude futures slipped 0.13% to $45.22 per barrel.