Asian shares at fresh three-month highs on China PMI surprise

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By Andrew Galbraith

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Asian shares scaled three-month highs on Friday as a surprise bounce in Chinese manufacturing activity eclipsed doubts raised by a Bloomberg news report over whether the United States and China can reach a long-term trade deal.

Shares in Europe were set to follow Asia’s lead. Pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures () were up 0.28%, German DAX futures () gained 0.34% and futures () added 0.19%.

Factory activity in China expanded at its fastest pace in more than two years in October as export orders and production rose, a private business survey showed on Friday.

The expansion, which beat expectations and contrasted with the dour results of an official survey Thursday, helped to boost Chinese blue chips (), which surged 1.6%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng () added 0.65% and Seoul’s Kospi () rose 0.77%. The Nikkei () underperformed, ending the day down 0.33%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan () reversed early losses to touch fresh three-month highs, and was last up 0.4%.

The index’s performance reflected a results season that has shown companies to be more resilient than expected, said Jim McCafferty, head of Equity Research, Asia ex-Japan at Nomura.

“If you look at the micro data supplied by the companies, then it tells you that customers … are continuing to do business. So I think that we are in a better state than perhaps investors thought we were just one month ago,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, losses had mirrored falls in global stock markets, as MSCI’s gauge of equity performance in 47 countries () fell from 20-month highs after a report that cast doubt on the likelihood of a U.S.-China trade deal.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average () fell 0.52%, the S&P 500 () lost 0.30% and the Nasdaq Composite () dropped 0.14%.

Efforts by Washington and Beijing to end their bruising nearly 16-month trade war appeared on track as U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday said that the two sides would soon announce a new venue for the signing of a “Phase One” trade deal after Chile cancelled a planned summit set for mid-November.

Optimism was dampened by a Bloomberg report citing unnamed Chinese officials airing doubts over whether a comprehensive long-term trade deal is possible.

China’s doubts were “not entirely unexpected”, Greg McKenna, strategist at McKenna Macro, said in a morning note to clients, noting that the falls in equity markets overnight were relatively small.

Retreats in the S&P 500 and the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield indicated some technical resistance in the market, he said.

“Either way, today’s deluge of manufacturing PMI’s and then U.S. non-farm (payrolls) tonight will be an important factor in where markets head next,” McKenna said.

The Institute for Supply Management is due to release data from its survey of purchasing managers on Friday. A separate PMI survey released Thursday by the Chicago Fed showed a sharper contraction in midwestern manufacturing activity for October.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes () was higher at 1.6963% compared with its U.S. close of 1.691% on Thursday. The two-year yield (), sensitive to market expectations of Federal Reserve policy, was at 1.536%, up from a U.S. close of 1.526%.

The Fed cut interest rates for a third time this year on Wednesday to help sustain U.S. growth, but signalled there would be no further reductions unless the economy takes a turn for the worse.

In the currency market, the dollar was down 0.05% against the yen at 107.97 .

The euro () was 0.1% higher on the day at $1.1161, while the (), which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.12% at 97.328.

U.S. crude () rose 0.28% to $54.33 a barrel and Brent crude () inched up 0.03% to $59.64 per barrel.

eased 0.24% to $1,509.54 per ounce. [GOL/]

(Graphic: China PMIs –