Asian stocks moderately higher after mixed US data

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were moderately higher on Thursday after Wall Street logged modest gains on solid labor market data, despite weakness in U.S. manufacturing.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.0 percent to 16,907.18 and South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.1 percent to 1,949.96. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.0 percent to 5,135.30. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.5 percent to 19,898.59, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent to 2,856.14. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and Southeast Asia were higher.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Data point to a mixed picture with a robust labor market and headwinds in the manufacturing sector and the shale sector on the other hand,” Mizuho Bank said in a daily commentary. Uncertainties about the potential impact of the global financial market volatility on the U.S. economy will likely lead Federal Reserve policymakers to maintain their wait-and-see stance when they meet later this month, it said.

MIXED U.S. DATA: ADP, a payroll processing company, said private U.S. businesses added a healthy 214,000 jobs last month. However, the Fed’s latest survey of business conditions in its 12 regions, known as the ‘Beige Book,’ found signs of trouble in the manufacturing sector due to weak demand from energy companies, the impact of the strong dollar on exports and sagging growth in key U.S. markets such as Europe and China.

WALL STREET: Wall Street eked out tiny gains on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34.24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,899.32. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 8.10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,986.45. The Nasdaq composite index added 13.83 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,703.42.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 6 cents at $34.72 per barrel in New York. The contract rose 26 cents to close at $34.66 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude was flat at $36.94 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES : The euro weakened to $1.0859 from $1.0870 and the dollar rose to 114.07 yen from 113.61 yen.

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