Asia shares mixed as China woes offset US, Europe data

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday as a pick-up in the United States and European manufacturing activity was offset by weakness in China.

The dollar edged closer to the 100 yen level on the back of the US figures, in turn helping push Japanese exporters higher.

Tokyo rose 1.78 per cent, or 246.24 points, to 14,098.74 and Sydney firmed 2.63 per cent, or 123.7 points, to 4,834.0 thanks to a decision by the country's central bank to hold off unveiling any new interest rate cuts.

Seoul was flat, edging down 0.71 points to 1,855.02.

In the afternoon Hong Kong, which was closed on Monday for a public holiday, eased 0.21 per cent after Chinese manufacturing showed signs of shrinking.

But Shanghai ended 0.57 per cent higher, adding 11.31 points to 2,006.56 as bargain hunters continued to pick up underpriced assets after last week's heavy sell-off.

In the US, the ISM purchasing managers index came in at 50.9 in June, well up from 49.0 in May.

Anything above 50 points to growth, while anything below indicates contraction.

That came after the Markit Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index rose to a 16-month-high 48.8, from 48.3 in May. While European manufacturing is still shrinking, the latest report suggests a pick-up in even the troubled economies of Italy and Spain.

Mr Brent Schutte, a market strategist at BMO Private Bank, said the US reading was "pretty good".

However, he touched on recent volatility in global markets over the possibility the US Federal Reserve will begin winding down its stimulus programme when the economy shows it is strong enough.

"I don't know if bad news is good news or good news is good news," Mr Schutte said. Markets "seem to be in this tug-of-war period".

However, in Asia the story was quite different, with HSBC's PMI for China showing activity shrinking in the economic giant, fuelling concerns about the knock-on effects for the rest of the region.

On Wall Street the Dow closed up 0.44 per cent Monday, the S&P 500 added 0.54 per cent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.92 per cent.

The figures from the US and Europe added to news that the Japanese central bank's Tankan survey of business confidence jumped into positive territory in the April-June quarter for the first time since September 2011.

On forex markets the dollar climbed in New York after the PMI figures, finishing at 99.66 yen on Monday.

And on Tuesday the unit rose further, sitting at 99.86 yen in afternoon trade.

The euro was mixed after enjoying a rally in New York on the back of the eurozone data. It bought US$1.3054 and 130.71 yen in Asia Tuesday, compared with US$1.3061 and 130.17 yen in New York.

The Australian dollar slipped to 91.81 US cents, from the 92.24 cents just before the country's central bank said it would stand pat on interest rates.

Oil prices rose, with New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude for delivery in August, up eight cents at US$98.07 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for August gained 18 cents to US$103.18.

Gold rose to US$1,264.57 per ounce at 0725 GMT, compared with US$1,238.80 late Monday.