Asian stocks rise, China rallies on positive PMI data
By Ambar Warrick
Investing.com -- Chinese bourses led gains across Asian stock markets on Wednesday after data showed that business activity in the country rose to pre-COVID levels, although lingering fears of rising U.S. interest rates and weak data from other regions kept broader gains limited.
China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes rose 1.4% and 0.9%, respectively, as the country’s composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) - a key indicator of business activity - surged to an over-a-decade high in February.
The Shanghai Composite was close to an eight-month high, as strong manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs indicated that an economic recovery in the Asian giant was gaining steam after it relaxed most anti-COVID measures.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 3.3% and was the best performer in Asia, as optimism over China helped the index recover from a near two-month low.
A recovery in China bodes well for broader Asian economies, which depend on the country as a trading partner. China-exposed stock indexes rose on Wednesday, with South Korea’s KOSPI and the Taiwan Weighted index adding 0.4% each.
Still, most Asian stocks were nursing sharp losses from February, as fears of rising U.S. interest rates battered regional markets. This sentiment was still in play on Wednesday, and limited gains in most regional bourses.
Signs of slowing economic growth in other Asian economies also weighed.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2% as data showed the country’s manufacturing PMI remained in contraction through February, pointing to more pressure on growth in the coming months.
Australia’s ASX 200 index rose 0.1%, as data showed the country’s economic growth slowed drastically in the fourth quarter of 2022. A post-COVID boom has run out of steam in Australia, leaving the country struggling with high inflation and rising interest rates.
On the other hand, India’s Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes jumped 0.6% and 0.5% in early trade, even as data showed the country’s economy grew slightly less than expected in the fourth quarter.
But the Indian economy expanded 7% in 2022, vastly outpacing its Asian peers.
Shares of Adani Enterprises Ltd (NS: ADEL ) jumped 10%, with most other stocks under the Adani Group rising as the conglomerate sought to assuage investor fears over its debt position.
Among Southeast Asian stocks, Indonesia's benchmark index rose 0.2% as inflation data for February read hotter than expected, heralding more pressure on local stocks.
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