MUMBAI, India (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday, with investors buoyed by solid manufacturing data out of China but wary of weak global demand for electronics after Panasonic Corp. forecast a massive loss.
Two manufacturing surveys in China, released Thursday, showed improvement for the month of October, adding to signs that the world's second largest economy may be recovering from its worst slump since the 2008 global recession.
The state-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing's monthly purchasing managers index improved to 50.2 from September's 49.8 on a 100-point scale, indicating expansion. Separately, HSBC Corp. said its own PMI improved to an eight-month high of 49.5 from September's 47.9, though it still showed activity contracting.
That gave momentum to stocks in the region. China's Shanghai Composite index led gains, rising 1.8 percent, to 2,105.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.6 percent, to 21,772.60. Stocks in Taiwan also gained.
Gains in Japan were tempered by Panasonic's warning Wednesday that it would post a $9.6 billion loss for the fiscal year through March, among the biggest in Japan's manufacturing history and far more than expected.
"People are worried you'll see further downgrades from Sony and Sharp," said Andrew Sullivan, an independent analyst, formerly of Piper Jaffray in Hong Kong. He said investors were also underwhelmed by the Bank of Japan's Tuesday stimulus announcement, a bond-buying program designed to boost growth and combat deflation.
"There's still concern after the Bank of Japan didn't do as much as the market had hoped for," he said. "Is the government really prepared to act decisively?"
Japan's Nikkei 225 index reversed early losses to gain 0.1 percent, to 8,934.94. Panasonic plunged over 19 percent. South Korea's Kospi was down 0.58 percent at 1,901.05. Indices in India, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia retreated.
The New York Stock Exchange was closed Monday and Tuesday, and the city that is the world's financial center struggled to get back to work after a huge storm slammed into the U.S. East Coast. The trading floor reopened Wednesday but had to run on backup generators because of a power outage in lower Manhattan. Volumes were thin with many people still unable to get to work due to transportation disruptions and power outages.
By the end of the day, stocks had barely budged, with the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 each moving less than a tenth of percentage point.
Investors will be keeping an eye out for signs of the cost of the storm damage as well as a raft of U.S. economic news to be released over the next few days, culminating in a comprehensive jobs report for October at the end of the week.
Benchmark oil for December delivery rose 8 cents to $86.32 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 56 cents to finish at $86.24 per barrel in New York on Wednesday.
In currencies, the euro retreated slightly to $1.2959 from $1.2962 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to 80.03 yen from 79.76 yen.
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