Asia Pacific stocks mostly higher; private survey shows better-than-expected Chinese factory activity

Stocks in Asia Pacific mostly edged higher in Wednesday afternoon trade as a private survey showed China’s factory activity for June was better than expected.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite up 0.91% while the Shenzhen component added 1.016%.

Shares in South Korea also traded higher, with the Kospi up 0.86% in afternoon trade.

Over in Australia the S&P/ASX 200 traded 0.57% higher.

Stocks in Japan lagged regionally, with the Nikkei 225 down 0.25% while the Topix index slipped 0.55%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 0.45%.

Markets in Hong Kong are closed for trading on Wednesday for a holiday.

A private survey showed Chinese manufacturing activity in June growing more than expected, with the Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) coming in at 51.2 last month. That was above expectations of a reading of 50.5 by analysts in a Reuters poll.

PMI readings above the 50-level signify expansion on a monthly basis, while those below that figure represent contraction. The official manufacturing PMI released Tuesday also showed factory activity in China expanding in June.

The Bank of Japan’s quarterly Tankan survey released Wednesday showed a worsening business mood in the country. The headline index for large manufacturers’ sentiment worsened to -34 in June — its lowest level since June 2009, according to Reuters — as compared with -8 in March.

“We knew that going into this Tankan report this is gonna be one for the record books, it was gonna be very bad but actually looking both the headline and content it’s actually even worse than I expected,” Izumi Devalier, head of Japan economics at Bank of America Global Research, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Wednesday.

“You’ve got this massive drop in manufacturing sentiment which wasn’t the case three months ago,” Devalier said. “That’s a sign that the weakness in overseas demand is starting to spillover into the manufacturing sector as well.”

Oil prices jump

Oil prices rose in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.19% to $41.76 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also added 1.38% to $39.81 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.398 after falling from levels above 97.5 seen earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.64 per dollar following its weakening from levels below 107.5 earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6899 after rising from levels below $0.685 yesterday.

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