Asian stock markets mostly advanced Friday after a private survey showed a pickup in Chinese manufacturing activity in December.
China's Shanghai Composite surged 2.88 percent or 59.36 points to 2,120.84, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.60 percent or 133.64 points to 22,579.22 and the Japanese benchmark Nikkei advanced 0.15 percent or 14.54 points to 9,757.27. On the other hand, India's BSE Sensex declined 0.12 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI declined 0.33 percent.
Asian stocks pared earlier losses and turned positive after the preliminary reading of the HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index for China, a measure of the nationwide manufacturing, climbed to 50.9 in December, its highest level in 14 months, compared to 50.5 in November, easing worries about a sharp growth slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
“As December flash manufacturing PMI picked up further to a 14-month high, it confirmed that China's ongoing growth recovery is gaining momentum, mainly driven by domestic demand conditions," Hongbin Qu, chief China economist and co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC, said in a note.
Markets opened mostly lower Friday, following losses on the Wall Street overnight as lingering concern about the U.S. "fiscal cliff" weighed on the sentiment. All the three major U.S. indexes ended on a negative note after House Speaker John Boehner again accused the White House of willingness to "slow-walk the economy right up to the fiscal cliff."
Japanese shares advanced despite weak economic data as weaker yen supported exporter companies shares. The Bank of Japan's Tankan survey showed that the businesses sentiment among large manufacturers dropped further in December. The survey's headline index fell to minus 12 in December from minus 3 in September while the sentiment on current business conditions among large non-manufacturers also declined to 4 from 8 in September.
Sharp Corp. surged 3.20 percent and Fujitsu Ltd. climbed 6.19 percent, while Olympus Corp. declined 2.06 percent.
Chinese shares surged after manufacturing data. PetroChina Co Ltd. gained 1.50 percent and Zhejiang Dongri climbed 10.06 percent in Shanghai while AIA Group Ltd. gained 2.93 percent and Ping An advanced 2.55 percent in Hong Kong.
In Seoul, LG Display Co Ltd. plunged 3.94 percent and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. fell 0.39 percent while STX Pan Ocean Co LTd. climbed 9.02 percent.