Hong Kong (CNN)Taiwan has accused China of “reckless and provocative” action, after two Chinese air force jets crossed a maritime border separating the island from the mainland.
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A videographer films an electronic board showing the Japan’s Nikkei average and related indexes at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks powered higher on Monday as positive Chinese factory gauges and signs of progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks boosted sentiment, although another defeat for British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal added to sterling’s woes.
Spreadbetters expected European stocks to open higher, with Britain’s gaining 0.4 percent, Germany’s adding 0.8 percent and France’s rising 0.9 percent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 1 percent and the rallied 2.4 percent.
Australian stocks climbed 0.6 percent, South Korea’s gained 1.3 percent and Japan’s advanced 1.4 percent.
The markets took heart after China’s official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) released on Sunday showed factory activity unexpectedly grew for the first time in four months in March.
A private business survey, the Caixin/Markit PMI, released on Monday also showed the manufacturing sector in the world’s second biggest economy returning to growth.
If sustained, the improvement in business conditions could indicate that manufacturing is on a path to recovery, easing fears that China could slip into a sharper economic downturn.
“Our view is the impact of policy easing is gradually kicking in, pushing up sequential growth indicators such as PMI first,” wrote China economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:).
“In particular, the larger-than-expected tax and fee cuts and improving financial conditions have likely helped boost business sentiment in the manufacturing space.”
Stocks in Asia also took their cues from Wall Street, with the posting its best quarterly gain in a decade on Friday amid trade optimism. ()
The United States and China said they made progress in trade talks that concluded on Friday in Beijing, with Washington saying the negotiations were “candid and constructive” as the world’s two largest economies try to resolve their drawn out trade war.
“The ongoing U.S.-China trade conflict has provided a steady stream of conflicting signals for the markets. But as a whole the negotiations appear to be headed towards a conclusion,” said Soichiro Monji, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.
“Hopes that the United States and China would reach an agreement on trade as early as this month are enabling stocks to begin the quarter on a positive tone.”
In the currency market, the against a basket of six major currencies stood at 97.147 after going as high as 97.341 on Friday, its strongest since March 11.
The greenback had benefited from the flagging pound, which was on track to post its fourth day of losses in the wake of the ongoing Brexit saga.
Sterling took its latest knock after British lawmakers rejected Prime Minister May’s Brexit deal for a third time on Friday, sounding its probable death knell and leaving the country’s withdrawal from the European Union deeper in turmoil.
The pound crawled up 0.15 percent to $1.3055 having posted three sessions of losses.
The Australian dollar advanced 0.35 percent to $0.7122. The is sensitive to shifts in the economic outlook for China, the country’s main trading partner.
The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.1239 while the dollar gained 0.2 percent to 111.035 yen.
Safe-haven government bonds retreated as risk aversion in the broader markets eased.
The benchmark edged up to a six-day high of 2.444 percent, pulling away from a 15-month low of 2.340 percent brushed on March 25.
The Treasury 10-year yield had sunk as the Federal Reserve halted its drive to hike rates and as risk aversion, driven by concerns about a global economic slowdown, gripped financial markets towards the end of March.
The slide had pushed the 10-year yield below the three-month rate for the first time since 2007 late last month.
This phenomenon – when the spread between short- and long- dated yields turns negative – is known as a curve inversion and has preceded every U.S. recession over the past 50 years.
The 3-month/10-year yield spread has since pulled back from negative territory and stood around 3 basis points.
prices added to Friday’s gains, with U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures gaining 0.6 percent to $60.52 per barrel.
Oil prices posted their biggest quarterly rise in a decade during January-March, as U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela as well as OPEC-led supply cuts overshadowed concerns over a slowing global economy. [O/R]
STR – AFP – Getty Images
October 12, 2016: A a Chinese worker making soft toys at a factory in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province.
poll of economists.
A reading below 50 signals contraction, while a reading above that level indicates expansion.
New orders climbed to their highest level in four months, while the index for new export orders returned to expansionary territory, “showing that both domestic and external demand rebounded moderately,” wrote Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, a subsidiary of Caixin.
Markit and Caixin said in a joint press release that staffing levels at factories rose in March to mark their first expansion since October 2013. Some firms also hired additional workers to support greater production and new business developments, they added.
“Overall, with a more relaxed financing environment, government efforts to bail out the private sector and positive progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks, the situation across the manufacturing sector recovered in March,” said Zhong.
Results of the private survey came after data on Sunday showed the official Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 50.5 in March from February’s three-year low of 49.2. It marked the first expansion in four months, according to data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics.
The manufacturing numbers come amid ongoing tariff talks between the U.S. and China aimed at resolving their trade differences. High-level trade negotiations between the two economic powerhouses are set to resume in Washington this week following last week’s talks in Beijing.
The Caixin PMI is a private survey focused on smaller businesses and offers a first glimpse into the operating environment. It is closely watched as an alternative to the official PMI.
Despite the strength of China’s March manufacturing data, there are still reasons to be cautious about the country’s near-term outlook, said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.
The breakdown of both the official and private PMI indexes suggests a slight recovery in external demand, with most of the improvement coming from a pick-up in domestic demand, wrote Evans-Pritchard in a note on Monday.
“We suspect that this was driven by stronger fiscal support since local governments have stepped up bond issuance recently,” he added. “On that note, the official PMI for the construction sector rose last month, consistent with an acceleration in infrastructure spending.”
China’s growth could still weaken in the near-term as indicated by recent credit growth data and a sharp decline in land sales purchases, Evans-Pritchard said.
Results of the Caixin PMI survey for the services sector are due to be released on Wednesday.
— Reuters contributed to this report.