Asia shares make cautious gains, investors eye China PMI

Home Business Asia shares make cautious gains, investors eye China PMI
Asia shares make cautious gains, investors eye China PMI

SYDNEY: Asian share markets managed a tentative rally on Tuesday after European and U.S. equities stabilized, though buying for month and quarter-end book balancing likely flattered the gains.

There were also hopes a survey of Chinese manufacturing due later would show a sizable improvement for March as factories began to re-open.

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Forecasts are that China's official purchasing manufacturers' index will bounce to 45.0, from a record-low 35.7 in February.

Analysts cautioned the result could even be higher given that the index measures the net balance of firms reporting an expansion or contraction in activity.

If a company merely resumed working after a forced stoppage, it would read as an expansion without saying much about the overall level of activity.

In any case, calmer markets globally helped MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rise 0.7 per cent. Japan's Nikkei edged up 0.2 per cent and South Korea 1.4 per cent.

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E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 added another 0.3 per cent, supported by talk of book-keeping demand.

"It's month-end rebalancing, whereby balanced funds now underweight equities versus fixed income given this month's valuation destruction, need to buy stocks to get back into balance," analysts at NAB said.

Healthcare had led Wall Street higher, with the Dow ending Monday up 3.19 per cent, while the S&P 500 gained 3.35 per cent and the Nasdaq 3.62 per cent.

News on the coronavirus remained grim but radical stimulus steps by governments and central banks have at least provided some comfort to economies.

Infections in hard-hit Italy slowed a little, but the government still extended its lockdown to mid-April. California reported a steep rise in people being hospitalized, while Washington state told people to stay at home.

Trade ministers from the Group of 20 major economies agreed on Monday to keep their markets open and ensure the flow of vital medical supplies.


Portfolio management also played a part in the forex market where many fund managers found themselves over-hedged on their U.S. equity holdings given the sharp fall in values seen this month, leading them to buy back dollars.

That saw the euro ease back to US$1.1030, from a top of US$1.143 on Monday, while the dollar index bounced to 99.207, from a trough of 98.330.

The Japanese yen continued to attract safe-haven demand of its own, which left the dollar at 108.08 and off last week's peak at 111.71.

Oil prices plunged to the lowest in almost 18 years on Monday as lockdowns for the virus squeezed demand even as Read More – Source


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