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Asian shares rise despite weak data


Nikkei 225 index inched up 8 points, at 28,821.21, Kospi added 0.5% to 3,302.25, Shanghai Composite index inched up 0.2% to 3,581.72, and S&P/ASX 200 soared 0.7% to 7,351.50

Asian shares were broadly higher Wednesday despite new data showing factory activity slowed this month amid virus outbreak in Asia.

Markets advanced in Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney and Seoul but inched lower in Hong Kong.

Japan, South Korea, and China all released data that erred on the side of slightly disappointing, Jeffrey Halley of OANDA said in a commentary, adding that it looks like softening demand from key export markets, exacerbated by chip shortages and logistic logjams, are muting orders across many sectors.

Japan’s industrial output dropped 5.9% in June from the month before while South Korean production dropped 0.7%.

A key measure of Chinese factory activity, the purchasing managers index, remained just barely in a state of expansion.

Pandemic precautions due to outbreaks of coronavirus at some ports in southern China have been disrupting shipping, analysts say.

Some signs of weakness can reassure investors worried that central banks and governments might withdraw the support for markets that has powered them to record highs after a slump early in the pandemic.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index inched up 8 points, at 28,821.21. The Kospi, in Seoul, added 0.5% to 3,302.25 and the Shanghai Composite index inched up 0.2% to 3,581.72. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 soared 0.7% to 7,351.50.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 0.2% to 28,948.75. Shares rose in India and Taiwan.

The biggest data release this week will be Friday’s U.S. jobs report for June. Economists expect it to show American employers created 675,000 more jobs than they cut, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.7%.

Job growth has been choppy recently, with gains falling disappointingly short of economists’ expectations in recent months. That’s key because the Fed is likely to keep up its support for the economy through low interest rates as long as the job market looks like it needs help.

Pending Friday’s update, markets were listless Tuesday.

Stocks have set their recent records on optimism that the economy is strengthening and that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low for a while longer.

A report released Tuesday showed a measure of confidence among U.S. consumers is continuing to rise, beating economists’ expectations for a slight decline. That’s key for an economy made up mostly of spending by consumers.

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