• ASIAN MARKETS DOWN ON CHINA FACTORY DATA

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    HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed on Monday as another set of weak manufacturing data out of China offset a positive Japanese business confidence survey.

    Tokyo rose 1.28 percent, or 175.18 points to 13,852.50, thanks to a surge in the Bank of Japan’s quarterly Tankan report, which in turn boosted the dollar against the yen as dealers sought higher-risk investments.

    On Wall Street, the Dow fell 0.76 percent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.43 percent, owing to profit-taking after a three-day rally. But the Nasdaq ended flat.

    Shanghai added 0.81 percent, or 16.04 points to 1,995.24, despite the disappointing purchasing managers index (PMI) reports on the country’s factory activity.

    Sydney, where a number of listed firms rely heavily on Chinese investment, dropped 1.92 percent, or 92.3 points to 4,710.3. Seoul was 0.41 percent lower, shedding 7.59 points to close at 1,855.73.

    Hong Kong and Bangkok were closed for public holidays.

    Beijing’s official PMI, a closely watched gauge of manufacturing activity, came in at 50.1 in June, in line with expectations but was down from 50.8 in May. Anything above 50 points to growth and anything below indicates contraction.

    HSBC also said that its own PMI came in at 48.2, down from May’s final reading of 49.2 and its lowest since September.

    The figures are the latest sign that the Asian powerhouse is losing strength, which could have implications for other economies that rely on it for their own growth.

    They also come after fears of a cash crunch in China’s financial system sent global markets into a tailspin, before the country’s central bank said that it would provide any necessary support.

    In Tokyo, the Tankan survey of business confidence recorded a reading of “plus four,” its highest level since March 2011 and the first time it has been positive since September of that year.

    The figure, the first reading since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a huge stimulus program in April to lift the economy, compares with a reading of “minus eight” in the previous quarter.

    The survey represents the percentage of firms saying that business conditions are good minus those saying otherwise.

    In currency trading, the yen slipped against the dollar, continuing a trend from last week after the US Federal Reserve moved to temper fears that it would reel in its bond-buying scheme too early.

    The dollar bought 99.61 yen in Asian trade, against 99.11 yen in New York City late on Friday. The euro was trading at $1.3035 compared with $1.3013 late on Friday and at 129.86 yen, from 128.99 yen.

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