Asia-Pacific stocks started September on a positive note Friday, led by gains in China, after a private gauge of Chinese factory activity rose for the third straight month in August.
“Sentiment is positive in China,” said Will Leung, head of investment strategy at Standard Chartered Wealth Management. He noted people are optimistic that Chinese economic data due next week will also show improvement after a soft batch of readings for July.
The August reading of Caixin’s manufacturing purchasing managers index, 51.6, was the second-highest of 2017. The 50 level separates growth in manufacturing activity from a contraction.
The Shanghai Composite Index
finished up 0.2%, while stocks in Shenzhen closed up 0.6%. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng
ended 0.1% lower, giving up earlier gains.
Elsewhere, stock markets in Asia were muted as a solid earnings season has come to an end, removing a potential market catalyst.
“There are a lot of moving parts in the news flow at the moment, but no one is really making the connection between these and the markets,” said Chris Weston, a strategist at IG Markets. At the same time, markets aren’t concerned about geopolitics, Tuesday’s selloff notwithstanding, he added.
In South Korea, the Kospi
pared its loss and ended 0.2% lower.
The greenback’s weakness capped stock gains in Japan. The Nikkei
closed up 0.2% and ended a six-week losing streak, its longest since early 2014.
With September’s arrival, the market is in what has historically been a selloff market, noted Tim Kelleher, head of foreign-exchange institutional training at ASB Bank in New Zealand. That might make investors somewhat wary of taking large positions near term.
An additional reason not to do so is Friday’s forthcoming release of the monthly U.S. jobs report. A better-than-expected number could see the dollar undo the past day’s reversal, Kelleher said.
Meanwhile, markets in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were closed Friday for a holiday. Australia’s S&P ASX 200
edged up 0.2%.