Asian Markets Rally, Amidst Several Economic Data Releases.
Shares in Asia-Pacific were higher in Thursday trade as the second quarter kicked off with several economic data releases out across the region.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led to gains among the region’s major markets as it rose 1.13% by the afternoon. Scores of firms in Hong Kong were suspended from trading on Thursday, as multiple companies cited a delay in the publication of their annual results as a reason behind the halt.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.66% in afternoon trade while the Topix index gained about 0.14%. South Korea’s Kospi also rose 0.77%.
Mainland Chinese shares advanced as the Shanghai composite gained 0.25% while the Shenzhen component climbed 0.828%.
Shares in Australia edged higher as the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.35%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.81% higher.
In corporate developments, shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company jumped about 2%. The firm announced Thursday plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase its plants’ capacity.
Economic Data Releases
A slew of economic data releases was out on Thursday. The headline large manufacturers index in the Bank of Japan’s quarterly tankan business sentiment survey came in at 5, against expectations of a 0 reading.
Australia’s retail sales declined 0.8% in February on a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis. That compared against expectations for a 1.1% decline in a Reuters poll.
The country also posted a trade surplus of 7.529 billion Australian dollars (about $5.71 billion) for February compared with expectations for a trade surplus of 9.7 billion Australian dollars.
A private survey released Thursday showed slowing growth of Chinese factory activity in March. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for March came in at 50.6, compared to February’s reading of 50.9.
PMI readings above 50 signify expansion, while those below that level represent contraction. PMI readings are sequential and represent month-on-month expansion or contraction.
In comparison, China’s official manufacturing PMI released Wednesday came in at 51.9, higher than February’s reading of 50.6.
The official PMI survey typically focuses on a large proportion of big businesses and state-owned companies. In contrast, the private Caixin/Markit survey polls a bigger mix of small- and medium-sized firms.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a more than $2 trillion infrastructure package on Wednesday. The plan’s goals include the revitalization of America’s transportation infrastructure as well as manufacturing.
Asian Markets Currencies and Oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.214, following an earlier high of 93.248.
The Japanese yen traded at 110.64 per dollar, still weaker than levels below 109.6 seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7572, having slipped from above $0.765 earlier in the week.
Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.48% to $63.04 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.34% to $59.5 per barrel.