Asian markets edge higher in face of weak China data

 
Guy Bentley
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Asian markets are seeing gains despite a fall in the HSBC purchasing managers' index (PMI) to an eight month low.

The measure fell from 48.5 in February to 48.1 in March. The decline was more than expected with Bloomberg's median at 48.7 and London-based consultancy Capital Economics forecasting 48.5.

Weak domestic demand was one of the primary factors contributing to the dip.

The data is even more concerning due to the fact that there is usually a rebound after the Chinese New Year holiday.

However, there was more positive news on the employment component, which rose from 47.2 to 49.3. Data published by the People's Bank of China on Friday also showed households remained optimistic about their employment prospects.

Japan economist for Capital Economics Julian Evans-Pritchard commented:

We don't expect a significant stimulus response from the authorities. There are no signs of stress in the labour market, which is policymakers' primary concern. Meanwhile, our CAP suggests that the recent weakness in manufacturing, which reflects the welcome slowdown in credit and investment growth since the middle of last year.

The Nikkei is up 1.6 per cent and the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is up 0.6 per cent. The Tokyo Stock Exchange Tokyo Price Index is also enjoying gains of 1.3 per cent while South Korea's Kospi is up by a more modest 0.5 per cent. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index is up by 1.4 per cent.