China Shares Unsure of Latest Data

The Wall Street Journal’s Colin Ng and Puja Rajeev report that Asian stock markets were mostly higher on Tuesday, helped by receding worries over the unrest in Egypt, while shares in China were choppy after data painted a mixed picture of its manufacturing sector.

Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.4%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 0.2% higher, South Korea’s Kospi Composite was up 0.7%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tacked on 0.2% and China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.2%.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 30 points in screen trade.

Sentiment got a boost from the DJIA’s showing on Monday, when it rose 0.6% and added 2.7% in the month, for its best January performance in 14 years, helped by better-than-expected readings for U.S. consumer spending and the Chicago Business Barometer.

Although the worries from Egypt faded a little, “markets are still watching the unrest in Egypt closely as impacts are clearly being felt from higher oil and agricultural prices with growing concerns over supply disruptions and food hoarding,” said Credit Agricole in a note to clients.

In China, the market was choppy amid mixed signals sent out by separate Purchasing Managers Index reports earlier in the day.

China’s official PMI, published by the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, fell to 52.9 in January from 53.9 in December. But a competing PMI put out by HSBC Holdings PLC showed a modest rise to 54.5 from 54.4 in December, suggesting that further policy tightening from Beijing remains in the cards.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction. The CFLP PMI’s input price subindex, a leading indicator of inflation pressures, rose to 69.3 from 66.7 in December. “Growth is still strong enough for them to make inflation their number one priority,” said Royal Bank of Canada economist Brian Jackson.

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