Asian Shares Mostly Higher On Upbeat Chinese Data

Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday as investors cheered encouraging data from China as well as news that Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will officially withdraw a controversial extradition bill that triggered months of unrest.

Investors kept a close eye on international trade developments after U.S. President Donald Trump warned he would be “tougher” on Beijing if negotiations extended beyond the 2020 U.S. presidential election and he is re-elected.

Chinese shares rose sharply after a report showed growth in China’s service sector accelerated in August despite broader economic headwinds. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 27.26 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,957.41.

China’s private sector logged its fastest growth in four months in August as both manufacturers and service providers saw improved rates of activity growth, survey data from IHS Markit showed. The Caixin composite output index climbed to 51.6 from 50.9 in July.

Activity across the service sector advanced at a faster pace than in the manufacturing sector. The services Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at a three-month high of 52.1, up from 51.6 in July.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index soared 3.9 percent to finish at 26,523.23 after reports the embattled leader of Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, will formally withdraw a controversial bill that would have allowed extraditions to China.

Japanese shares finished marginally higher as a weak yen and encouraging service sector activity data prompted some late bargain hunting.

Service sector growth in Japan accelerated in August, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed with a PMI score of 53.3, up from 51.8 in July.

The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 23.98 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,649.14, but the broader Topix closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,506.81.

Gaming company Nintendo jumped 2.6 percent after announcing a new Nintendo Direct broadcast. Clothing chain operator Fast Retailing rose 0.9 percent as it announced a 9.9 percent rise in same-store sales at its Uniqlo outlets in Japan in August.

Australian markets ended lower after the release of mixed domestic data, with GDP expanding at its slowest pace in a decade last quarter.

In seasonally adjusted terms, GDP grew 0.5 percent over the June quarter, or 1.4 percent for the year — marking the worst annual growth recorded since the global financial crisis in the September quarter of 2009, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

Meanwhile, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the service sector in Australia moved into expansion territory in August with a Performance of Services Index score of 51.4, up sharply from 43.9.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 20.40 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,553, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 17.40 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,656.10.

The big four banks ended down between 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent. Mining and energy stocks turned in a mixed performance.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank edged up 0.3 percent and Bank of Queensland shed 0.9 percent after the country’s corporate regulator sued the two regional banks over ‘unfair’ contracts.

Export-driven healthcare stocks lost ground, with biotech major CSL declining 1.5 percent and Ramsay Health Care losing 1.1 percent.

Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search rallied 3.3 percent after the government said it would allow the Papua LNG project to go ahead in accordance with the terms of the gas agreement.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining jumped around 3 percent after gold prices surged overnight.

Seoul stocks rallied on renewed hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal. The benchmark Kospi jumped 22.84 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,988.53 after falling sharply in the previous session.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics surged up 2 percent, while chipmaker SK Hynix soared 3.9 percent. Asiana Airlines slumped 4.5 percent after preliminary bids to acquire the carrier closed Tuesday with a three-way race.

New Zealand shares recovered from an early slide to finish modestly higher. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 54.21 points, or 0.5 percent, to 11,008.13 after rallying 1.4 percent the previous day. Fonterra, which is currently undergoing a full strategic review, dropped 1.2 percent.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index jumped 1.3 percent on the back of upbeat service sector data from China.

U.S. stocks ended lower overnight as a new round of trade tariffs went into effect and disappointing manufacturing data reinforced worries over slowing growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell around 1.1 percent, while the S&P 500 declined 0.7 percent.

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