The Nikkei Stock Average NIK, +0.29% closed up 0.3%, after an early decline of 0.1%. The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +1.21% added 1.2% to its highest point in more than two months, while in Hong Kong, where the market had been closed Friday due to Typhoon Haima, the Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.98% rose 1%. Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.73% closed up 0.7%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.40% fought the tide, ending down 0.4%
Japan’s Ministry of Finance reported that September exports were off 6.9% from a year earlier—the 12th straight month of declines—as a stronger yen continued to hurt manufacturers. Imports were off 16.3%, the 21st straight month of contraction.
The export drop, though, was less than the 10.6% expected by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.
“The Japanese trade balance in September sent positive surprises to the markets this morning,” said Margaret Yang, a market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.
Moreover, Japan’s manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 51.7 in October from September’s 50.4. The indicator tracks the order expectations of factory managers. A reading above the 50 indicates expansion, and Japan’s October PMI showed the rate improving at the fastest rate in nine months.
“The fifth straight rise in the manufacturing PMI in October indicates that firms are dealing well with the headwind from a stronger exchange rate,” said analysts at Capital Economics in a note. “What’s more, the survey suggests that consumer prices are no longer falling.”
Among Tokyo-traded stocks, videogame-maker Nintendo’s shares 7974, -4.82% ended down 4.8%, after Nikkei reported that its sales likely dropped 30% from a year earlier. That added to the selling momentum that began after Thursday’s unveiling of a new gaming platform that underwhelmed investors.
By contrast, electronics-maker Sharp 6753, +4.82% finished up 4.8%, following a report that the company is set to streamline operations by closing a factory in Hiroshima as early as 2017 and shifting work to another factory in the same prefecture.
Commodities-reliant Australia was hurt by weaker oil prices. Brent, the global crude oil benchmark, was recently down 0.1% at $51.73 a barrel in Asian trade. Among key energy shares in Australia, Santos STO, -2.86% slid 2.9%, Oil Search OSH, -1.97% 2% and Woodside WPL, -1.06% 1%.
The Shanghai Composite Index’s rise reflected increased appetite for equities as the government cracks down on real-estate speculation.
“There is simply too much liquidity that has nowhere to go after the government restricts property buying,” said Deng Wenyuan, an analyst at Soochow Securities.
SHCOMP, +1.21% The Chinese market’s gains had been capped earlier in the session, after China’s central bank fixed the yuan 0.2% weaker against the U.S. dollar. The yuan has been trading at six-year lows against the dollar in recent sessions, and some investors have been concerned about the possibility of capital flight.
Still, Capital Economics said recent movement has been driven mainly by dollar strength, which it expects to continue ahead of a likely rate rise by the U.S. Federal Reserve in December. Others in the market view a rally in China shares as a sign that the market can withstand some capital exodus.
In South Korea, Hanjin Shipping Co. 117930, -11.84% ended off 12%, following news Friday that the heavily indebted company is in talks to sell its stake in a Long Beach Terminal to a Swiss company.
Looking ahead, market participants will be watching for PMI data out of Europe and the U.S., and following speeches by members of the U.S. Federal Reserve that could indicate the likelihood of an interest rate rise in December.
According to CME Group’s FedWatch tool, the probability of a rise in December has fallen to 69.5% from the prior 73.9%.
Cold War-era Soviet Union survival tactics are back in vogue as Russians by the millions participated in emergency drills across the country. The test-runs come amid heightened tensions with the U.S. Photo: AP Photo/Ministry of Emergency Situations press service via AP