China says growth in its manufacturing activity slowed in February


SINGAPORE – Stocks in Asia-Pacific were higher on Monday, as the release of data showed growth in China’s manufacturing activity slowed in February.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 2.36% in morning trading as the index tried to rebound from its nearly 4% slide on Friday. The Topix index gained 1.7%.

Shares in mainland China rose as the Shanghai composite gained 0.89% while the Shenzhen component rose 2.03%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 1.44%.

Shares in Australia were slightly higher as the S & P / ASX 200 gained 1.44%.

MSCI’s broader Asia-Pacific stock index outside of Japan traded 0.98% higher.

South Korean markets are closed on Mondays for a holiday.

China Manufacturing PMI

China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) for February was 50.6 over the weekend, according to data released by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.

That was lower than the January reading of 51.3, but still above the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction.

A private survey released on Monday also showed that China’s manufacturing activity in February grew at a slower pace.

The Caixin / Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) stood at 50.9, down from January’s reading of 51.5.

Levels above 50 in the PMI readings represent expansion, while those below that signify contraction. The PMI readings are sequential and show a monthly expansion or contraction.

Bond yields fall

The moves in the Asia-Pacific markets came as bond yields fell.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond fell to a low of 1.383%, last trading at 1.4169%. Prices move inversely to returns.

In Asia-Pacific, the yield on the Australian 10-year bond fell to 1.652%, after seeing levels above 1.8% last week. The 10-year Japanese government bond yield also fell to 0.155%.

Oil prices jump

Oil prices rose in the morning of Asian business hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures rising 1.92% to $ 65.66 a barrel. US crude futures rose 1.9% to $ 62.67 a barrel.

The US dollar index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of its peers, was at 90,812 after recovering from levels below 90 in late February.

The Japanese yen was trading at 106.60 per dollar, weaker than levels below 105.6 against the dollar seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $ 0.7752, having fallen from levels above $ 0.792 last week.

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