BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday following a slew of bleak U.S. corporate results, but losses were cushioned by a report suggesting China's manufacturing slump may be bottoming out.
HSBC Corp. said its monthly purchasing managers' index rose to 49.1 points in October from 47.9 points on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate a contraction. The result means that China's manufacturing shrank again, but at a slower rate than the previous month.
The results raised the possibility that market losses could "stabilize and perhaps even turn around," Dariusz Kowalczyk of Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary. "This is an unusually large gain for this time of year, and the level represents a three month high."
Japan's Nikkei 225, after swinging between gains and losses, was flat at 9,010.26. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2 percent to 21,745.79. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.5 percent to 1,917.14. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent to 4,514.10. Benchmarks in Singapore and mainland China rose while those in the Philippines, Thailand and New Zealand fell. Indian markets were closed for a holiday.
Peter Elston, strategist at Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore, said Asian stocks were showing buoyancy despite poor corporate profits in the U.S., a factor that sent European and U.S. stocks plummeting Tuesday.
"I suspect that Asia is also considered to be a region that has underperformed for the last couple of years. So perhaps that is something that is being appreciated increasingly," he said.
Among individual stocks, South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix rose 4.3 percent after the company reported a better-than-expected net profit for the third quarter.
A surge in third-quarter profits at China Vanke, the country's biggest property developer, helped lift Chinese real estate shares. Xinhua news agency reported China Vanke's profits surged 41.7 percent year on year to about 5 billion yuan ($806 million). Shanghai-listed China Vanke rose 0.4 percent.
Hong Kong-listed Evergrande Real Estate Group jumped 4.8 percent. Sino Land Co. added 3.6 percent.
U.S. stocks sank Tuesday after some grim corporate reports. Big-name companies like Xerox and 3M reported lower revenue for the third quarter, while chemical maker DuPont said it will have to cut jobs and other expenses to make up for weak demand. UPS, the world's largest package-delivery company, warned that the pace of global growth remains uneven.
The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 1.8 percent to 13,102.53 — its lowest level in nearly seven weeks. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 1.4 percent to 1,413.11. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.9 percent to 2,990.46.
Benchmark oil for December delivery was up 66 cents to $87.33 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.98 to finish at $86.67 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2984 from $1.2976 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 79.78 yen from 79.91 yen.
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