HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday as profit-taking and renewed concern about a US strike on Syria tempered buying sentiment, although Tokyo recouped early losses as the dollar approached 100 yen.
Wall Street provided a positive lead after the United States followed China and Europe in posting upbeat manufacturing data that raised hopes for the global economic outlook.
Tokyo ended 0.54 per cent higher, adding 75.43 points to 14,053.87, following gains of more than four per cent in the previous two sessions.
Shanghai was up 0.21 per cent, or 4.51 points, at 2,127.62. Hong Kong fell 0.31 per cent, or 68.36 points, to 22,326.22, while Sydney slipped 0.67 per cent, or 35.0 points, to 5,161.6 and Seoul closed flat, edging down 0.71 points to 1,933.03.
September trading started strong on Monday and Tuesday after figures showed activity in China’s factories at their highest level in 16 months, while eurozone manufacturing was at its highest for more than two years.
On Tuesday there were similar results from the United States, adding to growing hopes of a pick-up in developed nations, which investors hope can kickstart a global trend.
The economic data is welcome news after a tough August that saw widespread selling – mainly in emerging economies – as dealers bet the US Federal Reserve will soon begin to wind down its stimulus programme.
On their first day of trade after the long Labour Day weekend, shares on Wall Street advanced, with the Dow up 0.16 per cent, the S&P 500 adding 0.42 percent and the Nasdaq 0.63 per cent higher.
The improved outlook has helped the dollar push back towards the 100 yen level not seen since July. In Asian trade the greenback bought 99.60 yen in afternoon trade compared with 99.54 yen in New York Tuesday, and well up from the sub-96 mark seen last week.
The euro bought $1.3161 and 131.05 yen, against $1.3170 and 131.14 yen.
However, worries about Syria resurfaced after Republican House Speaker John Boehner and his right hand man Eric Cantor said they would support a strike on the regime over its alleged use of chemical weapons.
The move represented a rare gesture of unity in a divided Washington and left President Barack Obama hopeful of securing a vote for action in Congress next week.
Investors are nervous that any form of intervention could lead to a wider conflict in the Middle East.
On oil markets crude was mixed after rallying on supply fears in New York as Syria returned to the agenda, while there were also reports of a missile test in the Mediterranean by Israel.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, eased 46 cents to $108.08 in late Asian trade. Brent North Sea crude for October gained one cent to $115.69.
Gold cost $1,408.96 an ounce at 0815 GMT, up from $1,393.90 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
- Taipei was almost unchanged, nudging 4.93 points lower to 8,083.44. PC maker Acer shed 2.42 per cent to Tw$20.2 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. fell 1.47 per cent to Tw$100.5.
- Manila fell 1.90 per cent, or 115.58 points, to 5,968.33. Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. slipped 2.11 per cent to 2,790 pesos and Bank of the Philippine Islands lost 1.34 per cent to end at 91.70 pesos.
- Wellington was flat, edging up 3.60 points at 4,610.31. TradeMe was up 2.07 per cent at NZ$4.43 and Telecom fell 0.89 per cent to NZ$2.22.