Asian stock markets were mixed Friday as disappointing Chinese manufacturing growth weighed on sentiments.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.44 percent or 105.01 points to 23,624.52, South Korea's KOSPI Composite fell 0.34 percent or 6.66 points to 1,955.28 and Chinese Shanghai Composite declined 0.02 percent while Japan's benchmark Nikkei gained 0.49 percent or 54.79 points to 11,193.45 and India’s BSE Sensex gained 0.23 percent.
Investors turned negative after the data released by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed that Chinese manufacturing activity expanded in January but at a slower rate than in the previous month. It also came in below expectations.
China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) declined to 50.4 in January from 50.6 in December and also fell short of the economists' estimate of 51.0, suggesting that the recovery in the world’s second largest economy has yet to gain momentum.
“It seems new orders for exports have declined even when new orders overall rose, suggesting that infrastructure spending and other investment to spur domestic demand is needed to keep (China's) economy growing. But it's not going to change the view about the Chinese economy recovering. The official data was just neither good nor bad,” Naohiro Niimura, a partner at research and consulting firm Market Risk Advisory, told Reuters.
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However, the downward move was limited as a separate private sector survey showed that China’s manufacturing activity expanded to a two-year high in January. The final reading of the PMI, a measure of the nationwide manufacturing activity, rose to 52.3 in January, the highest level since January 2011, up from the preliminary reading of 51.9 and also higher than 51.5 in December.
Japanese stocks advanced, supported by local corporate earnings and a weaker yen. NEC Corp. climbed 8.52 percent and Sharp Corp. surged 4.18 percent while Softbank Corp. surged 5.98 percent after the company said its third quarter net income surged to 65.9 billion yen or $724 million from 32.8 billion yen in the same period last year.
Among the other stocks, Japan Tobacco Inc. gained 4.04 percent and Toyota Motor Corp. advanced 2.75 percent while Mazda Motor surged 3.66 percent.
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. declined 2.02 percent and CITIC Pacific Ltd declined 1.60 percent in Hong Kong while Aluminum Corp of China declined 1.35 percent in Shanghai.
In Seoul, Hyundai Motor Co gained 1.71 percent and Kia Motors advanced 0.97 percent while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. fell 0.14 percent.