Asian stocks rose in holiday-thinned trade Thursday after a Chinese manufacturing index improved and buying appetite strengthened after substantial falls in stock prices in the past quarter.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 2.2 percent to 17,771.71 as the yen weakened against the dollar, giving a boost to exporter stocks. Markets in Hong Kong and mainland China were closed for holidays. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.0 percent to 1,982.74 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.7 percent to 5,105.80. Markets in Southeast Asia were higher.
CHINA MANUFACTURING: An official manufacturing index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers edged up to 49.8 in September from August's 49.7, which was the lowest level since August 2012. In July, it was 50.0. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction. A separate manufacturing index compiled by financial magazine Caixin and Markit fell to 47.2 in September from 47.3 in August. But the figure was better than the preliminary result of 47.0 released on Sept. 23. China's economic growth held steady at 7 percent in the latest quarter ending in June, which was the weakest performance since the 2008 global crisis.
JAPAN SURVEY: The Bank of Japan's "tankan" business confidence survey provided mixed messages about the Japanese economy. Sentiment of major manufacturers fell though remained modestly positive overall. Other indicators, such as prospects for profits and plans for construction spending, were positive, providing some hope for an economy struggling to rise out of two decades of stagnation and deflation.
QUOTABLE: "There has been a growing feeling in the markets that while the global outlook has dimmed somewhat, the current virulence of the sell-off was somewhat overdone," said Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Singapore in a report. "It would be easy to be overly cynical about the Chinese (manufacturing indexes) today. They were still objectively weak and one could still beat up the data or accuse the Chinese government of making it up. Nonetheless, the massive sell-off seen in global equities since the start of August was driven by two key factors: concerns about the China slowdown and nervousness about the September Fed meeting."
WALL STREET: The S&P 500 jumped 35.94 points, or 1.9 percent, to 1,920.03 on Wednesday. The index has fallen seven of the past 10 days, and is off 6.9 percent in the July-September period, the worst quarterly performance since 2011. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 235.57 points, or 1.5 percent, to 16,284.70. It fell 7.6 percent in the quarter. The Nasdaq composite climbed 102.84 points, or 2.3 percent, to 4,620.16.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 69 cents at $45.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 14 cents to close at $45.09 on Wednesday after data showed that total U.S. crude inventories rose. Brent Crude, the international benchmark, rose 36 cents to $49.41 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 120.21 yen from 119.92 yen on Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.1142 from $1.1172.