Asia stocks rebound as investors await China factory data

AP News
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Posted: Sep 21, 2015 11:35 PM
Asia stocks rebound as investors await China factory data

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks rose modestly Tuesday as investor anxiety over a timing of a Fed interest rate rise was replaced by cautious optimism over upcoming China factory data.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.7 percent to 21,918.56 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China was up 0.8 percent to 3,182.79. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent to 1,970.16 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6 percent to 5,094.40. Markets in Japan remain closed for a three-day holiday.

RATE DEBATE: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart added his voice on Monday to other comments from Fed officials over the weekend, saying he was "confident" of a rate rise this year. Last week's Fed decision not to raise interest rates sent world stock markets into a slump because the central bank cited concerns about global economic weakness. Investors are now looking for more insight into central bank officials' thinking and they'll get another chance when Fed chief Janet Yellen delivers a speech on Thursday.

CHINESE FACTORIES: Investors in Asia were awaiting monthly manufacturing data from China Wednesday, which will give the latest update on a pillar of the world's No. 2 economy. Caixin's preliminary index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers will be closely watched for any signs of improvement after sinking to a six-year low in August. Fed officials cited China's struggling economy as one factor in its decision to delay hiking rates.

QUOTE-WORTHY: "I feel that what will be a stronger impetus will be strong data or at least stronger-than-expected data out from China," in the form of China's manufacturing, said market strategist Bernard Aw of IG in Singapore. Economists are forecasting another contraction, with the index at 47.5 "so any number above this would be taken as a positive. However, to move market sentiments, the reading needs to be materially higher."

WALL STREET: Major U.S. stock benchmarks ended higher as investors tried to look beyond uncertainty for interest rates. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.8 percent to 16,510.19 while the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.5 percent to 1,966.97. The Nasdaq composite gained less than 0.1 percent to 4,828.95.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 50 cents to $46.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2 to close at $46.68 a barrel on Monday in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 39 cents to $49.30 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 120.35 yen from 120.49 yen in Monday trading. The euro rose to $1.1205 from $1.1187.