Shares inch up after China PMI, Spain drags on euro

Updated: 2012-07-24 14:47


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TOKYO -- Asian shares inched higher on Tuesday, helped by improving Chinese manufacturing data, but the euro remained under pressure as surging Spanish borrowing costs stoked fears that the euro zone's fourth-largest economy will be forced to seek a bailout.

The HSBC flash China manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to a five-month high in July, driven up by a jump in the output sub-index and signs of an improvement in new export orders that offered some relief to fragile markets.

Asian shares erased earlier losses while oil and copper rose after the Chinese data, pushing the commodity-linked Australian dollar up to $1.0288 from around $1.0265.

The euro also received a temporary boost before retreating to stand not far from a two-year low against the dollar and a near 12-year low against the yen.

The single currency was undermined by Moody's Investors Service changing its ratings outlook to negative for Aaa-rated Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg amid Europe's ongoing debt crisis.

"China's PMI data beat market expectations and gave shorts a reason to cover today," said Orient Futures derivatives director Andy Du, referring to buying by short-sellers to realise their gains on earlier bets that markets would fall.

It was the first significant Chinese data in the third quarter and signalled that pro-growth government policies may be gaining traction in the world's second-largest economy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2 percent, after spending most of the session in negative territory. It tumbled 2.4 percent on Monday for its biggest one-day drop in about two months.

Japan's Nikkei stock average also steadied after earlier slipping to a six-week low.

Brent crude rose 0.8 percent to $104.03 a barrel and US crude added 0.8 percent to $88.81, while copper

jumped 1.1 percent to $7,485 per tonne on China's PMI.

"The data gave a slight boost to markets, but whether such effects are sustainable are doubtful as Europe struggles with its problems," said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, general manager at trading company Nihon Unicom.

"Government policies will underpin the Chinese economy over the longer term, but in the short-term, instability in the European situation will keep a drag, especially as Europe is a big export market for China," he said.

European stocks were seen mixed and US stock futures were barely changed. Financial spreadbetters called the main indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt to open between a 0.4 percent fall and a 0.3 percent gain.  

Hong Kong's stock market opened up 0.1 percent after the morning session was cancelled due to Typhoon Vicente.

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