Asian markets post slight gains despite weak U.S. data

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Asian stock markets were moderately higher on Thursday after Wall Street logged modest gains on solid labour market data, despite weakness in U.S.

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manufacturing.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.0 per cent to 16,907.18 and South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.1 per cent to 1,949.96. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.0 per cent to 5,135.30. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.5 per cent to 19,898.59, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 per cent 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 labour 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 per cent, to 16,899.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 8.10 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1,986.45. The Nasdaq composite index added 13.83 points, or 0.3 per cent, 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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