Asian stock markets were mixed on the first trading session of the new year on Thursday, as investors digested a pair of disappointing reports on the Chinese manufacturing sector.
During late Asian trade, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index dipped 0.2%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index ended up 0.29%. Japanese markets remain closed and will resume trade on January 6.
Midway through the session, a report showed that China’s final HSBC Purchasing Managers Index inched down to 50.5 in December from a reading of 50.8 in November.
The data was published one day after a government report showed that China’s manufacturing purchasing managers'' index fell to a four-month low of 51.0 last month from 51.4 in November and worse than forecasts for a decline to 51.2.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng edged lower amid ongoing concerns over tightening liquidity conditions in the financial system and rising interbank lending rates. Investors have remained cautious over the level of bad debt at Chinese banks, particularly when interbank lending rates are high.
China Construction Bank lost 1%, China Merchants Bank fell 2.2%, while China Citic Bank slumped 1.4%.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index edged higher in holiday-thinned trade as gains in the mining sector boosted the benchmark index.
Fortescue Metals Group advanced 1.9%, OZ Minerals climbed 3.5%, while gold producers Newcrest Mining and Kingsgate Consolidated surged 8.3% and 10.8% after gold prices kicked off the new year with strong gains.
Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a higher open. The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.2% at the open, France’s CAC 40 futures added 0.2%, London’s FTSE 100 futures indicated a rise of 0.1%, while Germany''s DAX futures pointed to a gain of 0.4% at the open.
The euro zone is to release revised data on its manufacturing PMI, while Spain and Italy are also to release individual reports.
Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets pointed to a flat open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a gain of 0.02%, S&P 500 futures were little changed, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated an increase of 0.04%.
Later Thursday, the Institute of Supply Management is to release its manufacturing PMI, while the Labor Department is to release its weekly report on initial jobless claims. The U.S. is also to publish data on construction spending.
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