Asian stocks rose in holiday-thinned trade Thursday after a Chinese manufacturing index improved and buying appetite strengthened after substantial falls in stock prices in the past quarter.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 2.2 percent to 17,774.98 as the yen weakened against the dollar, giving a boost to exporter stocks. Markets in Hong Kong and mainland China were closed for holidays. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.1 percent to 1,984.64 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.7 percent to 5,107.10. Markets in Southeast Asia were higher.
CHINA MANUFACTURING: An official manufacturing index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers edged up to 49.8 in September from August's 49.7, which was the lowest level since August 2012. In July, it was 50.0. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction. China's economic growth held steady at 7 percent in the latest quarter ending in June, which was the weakest performance since the 2008 global crisis. Officials hope to maintain the growth rate for the rest of the year but many economists doubt the target will be met, particularly if manufacturing weakens further.
JAPAN SURVEY: The Bank of Japan's "tankan" business confidence survey provided mixed messages about the Japanese economy. Sentiment of major manufacturers fell though remained modestly positive overall. Other indicators, such as prospects for profits and plans for construction spending, were positive, providing some hope for an economy struggling to rise out of two decades of stagnation and deflation.
QUOTABLE: "A relief rally has been seen globally in all asset classes, however, was this simply a classic end of-month/quarter story and a re-weighting into risks assets after a strong underperformance on the quarter?" said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia. "Modest buying has been seen in US fixed income so there is merit to this argument, with a number of investment banks talking about mutual funds having to buy over $20 billion of US equities to rebalance. "
WALL STREET: The S&P 500 jumped 35.94 points, or 1.9 percent, to 1,920.03 on Wednesday. The index has fallen seven of the past 10 days, and is off 6.9 percent in the July-September period, the worst quarterly performance since 2011. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 235.57 points, or 1.5 percent, to 16,284.70. It fell 7.6 percent in the quarter. The Nasdaq composite climbed 102.84 points, or 2.3 percent, to 4,620.16.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 61 cents at $45.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 14 cents to close at $45.09 on Wednesday after data showed that total U.S. crude inventories rose. Brent Crude, the international benchmark, rose 35 cents to $49.40 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 120.18 yen from 119.92 yen on Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.1147 from $1.1172.