Asian Stocks Extend Gains After Mixed U.S. Data

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -
People cross a street in front of the electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Asian stocks jumped Wednesday after encouraging signs of strength in the U.S. economy sent shares higher on Wall Street. The screen reads "We handle Chinese stock and U.S. stock." (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
People cross a street in front of the electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Asian stock markets were higher on Thursday after Wall Street logged modest gains on solid labor market data, despite weakness in U.S. manufacturing.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent to 16,960.16 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6 percent to 1,958.17. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index underperformed other benchmarks in the region, falling 0.4 percent to 19,912.45, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 2,858.28. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.2 percent to 5,142.20 and stocks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also were higher.

“While this rally will inevitably have a pullback at some point, the forthcoming U.S. non-farms payroll, China’s National Party Congress, ECB and BOJ meetings could all help support this rally in the near term,” Angus Nicholson of IG said in a commentary. “Of course, the markets currently look like they are pricing good news in from all of them, so an upset from any one could throw the rally off.”

ADP, a payroll processing company, said private U.S. businesses added a healthy 214,000 jobs last month. However, the Fed’s latest survey of business conditions in its 12 regions, known as the “Beige Book,” found signs of trouble in the manufacturing sector due to weak demand from energy companies, the impact of the strong dollar on exports and sagging growth in key U.S. markets such as Europe and China.

Wall Street eked out tiny gains on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34.24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,899.32. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 8.10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,986.45. The Nasdaq composite index added 13.83 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,703.42.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 10 cents at $34.76 per barrel in New York. The contract rose 26 cents to close at $34.66 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude rose 3 cents at $36.96 a barrel in London.

The euro weakened to $1.0863 from $1.0870 and the dollar rose to 114.19 yen from 113.61 yen.