Asia stocks rise on improved China manufacturing

Asian stock markets rise after surveys show China manufacturing on the upswing

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets rose Monday after surveys showed a recovery in China's manufacturing.

HSBC's Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 50.5 in November on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate activity is expanding. It was the first expansion in 13 months. The reading in October was 49.5.

That comes on top of the release Saturday of a state-sanctioned survey, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing's monthly Purchasing Managers' Index, which showed an improvement to 50.6 from 50.2 in October.

The PMI index measures overall manufacturing activity by surveying numerous indicators including orders, employment and actual production.

The Chinese numbers are rare good news for the world economy, which has slowed as Europe's chronic debt crisis worsened and the American economy stagnated.

"This confirms that Chinese economy continues to recover gradually," said Hongbin Qu, chief economist for China research at HSBC.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7 percent to 9,508.26, its first time above 9,500 in seven months. Stocks in Tokyo got an added boost from the yen's recent weakness against the dollar and the euro.

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.3 percent to 1,938.93. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia rose. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.1 percent at 22,043.52.

Investors continued to abandon mainland Chinese stocks. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.3 percent to 1,974.62. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.6 percent to 748.40.

"A lot of investors are sitting on the sidelines until a big stimulus project from the government or big, encouraging economic numbers come out. Before that happens, they are just waiting," said Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.

Among individual stocks, Australia's Woodside Petroleum rose 1.1 percent after announcing an Australian dollars 670.04 million ($696 million) deal on a major gas prospect off the coast of Israel.

The company has agreed to commercial terms for the acquisition of two exploration licenses in the Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea.

The company will be the operator of any liquefied natural gas development of the Leviathan gas field. The deal with the U.S.-based firm Noble Energy gives Woodside a 30 percent interest in Leviathan.

On Friday, U.S. stocks ended nearly flat amid ongoing budget negotiations in Washington. The Dow Jones industrial average rose less than 0.1 percent to close at 13,025.58. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose marginally to close at 1,416.18. The Nasdaq composite fell nearly 0.1 percent to 3,010.24.

Wall Street stocks have fluctuated between gains and losses in recent days as investors followed the latest headlines from budget negotiations. Lawmakers need to reach a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff — a package of tax increases and government spending cuts that will automatically take effect in 2013 unless lawmakers take action. Economists have warned that the package's high cost could throw the U.S. back into recession.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was up 24 cents to $89.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 84 cents to close at $88.91 in New York on Friday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3035 from $1.3002 Friday in New York. The dollar fell to 82.40 yen from 82.50 yen.

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