Channel NewsAsia

Asian shares mostly up on China manufacturing data

Asian markets mostly rose on Thursday as an index of Chinese manufacturing activity hit an 18-month high in July, boosting hopes for the world's number two economy, as concerns over the Ukraine crisis eased.

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly rose Thursday as an index of Chinese manufacturing activity hit an 18-month high in July, boosting hopes for the world's number two economy, as concerns over the Ukraine crisis eased.

The euro fell to fresh multi-month lows against the dollar and yen as investors fretted over the impact of sanctions on Russia over its links to rebels in Ukraine who have been blamed with shooting down a Malaysian airliner.

Shanghai rallied 1.28 percent, or 26.57 points, to 2,105.06 and Hong Kong jumped 0.71 percent, or 169.63 points, to 24,141.50. Sydney recorded its seventh straight gain, rising 0.20 percent, or 11.1 points, to close at 5587.8. But Tokyo slipped 0.29 percent, or 44.14 points, to 15,284.42 and Seoul ended marginally lower, dipping 1.70 points to end at 2,026.62.

Banking giant HSBC said its preliminary purchasing managers index of manufacturing activity for this month jumped to 52.0 from a final reading of 50.7 in June. The result suggests a recent slate of small stimulus measures by the government is gaining traction. Anything above 50 points to growth and a number below suggests contraction in the Asian economic giant and key driver of regional and global growth.

"Economic activity continues to improve in July, suggesting that the cumulative impact of mini-stimulus measures introduced earlier is still filtering through," HSBC economist Qu Hongbin said in a statement. "We expect policy makers to maintain their accommodative stance over the next few months to consolidate the recovery."

- Euro suffers fresh selling -

The news helped support an uptrend in markets as they recover from Friday's losses that were fuelled by the downing of MH17 in Ukraine. The tragedy, which killed almost 300 people, has been blamed by the the United States on pro-Russian rebels fighting the Ukraine government, raising the prospect of an international crisis.

Those fears eased on Tuesday when the militants, who had swarmed the crash site, handed over the black box recorders and allowed the bodies of the victims to be moved. However, Moscow still faces strict economic sanctions for its support of the rebels, in turn stoking concerns for the eurozone economy, which relies heavily on Russian energy imports, and hitting the euro.

The single currency fell to an eight-month low of US$1.3445 in afternoon Tokyo trade and a five-month low of 136.45 yen. That compares with US$1.3462 and 136.62 yen late in New York. The dollar was at 101.45 yen against 101.48 yen in New York.

Wall Street provided a mixed lead, with the S&P 500 edging up 0.18 percent to a new record thanks to a jump in Apple but the Dow dropped 0.16 percent, hit by a hefty fall in Boeing. The Nasdaq rose 0.40 percent.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in September was down 39 cents at US$102.73 a barrel in the afternoon. Brent crude eased 32 cents to US$107.71. Gold fetched US$1,297.28 an ounce by 0800 GMT compared with US$1,307.17 late Wednesday.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia