HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets were mixed Thursday after another round of weak manufacturing data underlined the slowdown in China’s economy, while minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s latest meeting gave few hints about its plans for interest rates.
Further losses in the yen to multi-year lows against the dollar and euro were not enough to give a strong boost Tokyo’s Nikkei after this week’s surprise news that Japan had slipped into recession. Tokyo ended flat, dipping 12.11 points to 17,300.86, Seoul fell 0.45 per cent, or 8.83 points, to 1,958.04 and Sydney sank 0.98 per cent, or 52.6 points, to 5,316.2.
Hong Kong lost 0.10 per cent, or 21.67 points, to close at 23,349.64. Shanghai was flat, edging up 1.67 points to 2,452.66.
Preliminary figures from British banking giant HSBC Thursday indicated manufacturing activity in China was stagnant in November. Its purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 50. Anything above that points to growth, and a figure below suggests contraction.
The result compares with 50.4 in October, and is the latest data showing the world’s number two economy and key driver of regional and global growth is struggling with soft exports and a weakening property sector.
However, it will likely raise hopes that Beijing will unveil a fresh stimulus as the impact of growth-inducing measures from earlier this year fades.
“We still see uncertainties in the months ahead from the property market and on the export front,” HSBC economist Qu Hongbin said in a statement. “Growth still faces significant downward pressures.” Oil prices were higher. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December added two cents to $74.60 while Brent crude for January was up one cent at $78.11 in mid-morning trade.
Gold was at $1,195.791 an ounce, compared with $1,200.30 late Wednesday.