Asian markets have ended mixed following another Wall Street rally, while a provisional report showed a slight improvement in Chinese manufacturing activity this month.
The US dollar on Wednesday held up against the yen, with traders eyeing US President Barack Obama’s visit to Asia that starts in Japan later in the day.
Tokyo rose 1.09 per cent, or 157.50 points, to 14,546.27 and Sydney added 0.7 per cent, or 38.5 points, to 5,517.8. Seoul lost 0.19 per cent, or 3.85 points, to end at 2,000.37.
Hong Kong slipped 0.97 per cent, or 221.04 points, to 22,509.64 and Shanghai fell 0.26 per cent, or 5.45 points, to 2,067.38.
HSBC said its preliminary purchasing managers index (PMI) for China came in at 48.3 in April, up from 48.0 in March.
While the figures point to a continuing contraction in manufacturing activity in the Asian economic giant, the rate has slowed.
A figure below 50 suggests shrinkage, while anything above points to growth.
The result will provide little comfort to traders about the Chinese economy after data last week showed it grew 7.4 per cent year-on-year in January-March, more than expected but down from the previous three months.
“Domestic demand showed mild improvement and deflationary pressures eased, but downside risks to growth are still evident as both new export orders and employment contracted,” HSBC economist Qu Hongbin said in a statement, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Eyes are now on the release of early PMI figures for Europe and the United States later in the day after recent figures have pointed to a pick-up in the global economy.
On currency markets the dollar bought 102.58 yen against 102.60 yen in New York Tuesday, while the euro bought $1.3819 and 141.76 yen, compared with $1.3804 and 141.65 yen.
The Australian dollar fell to 93.14 US cents from 93.75 cents after data showed Australian inflation was lower than expected in the first three months of the year.
In New York, the three main indexes enjoyed another positive day following a series of deals between pharmaceutical giants Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly that shuffled more than $US20 billion ($A21.42 billion) in assets.
Added to that were solid or strong earnings from Comcast, Lockheed Martin, Netflix, Travelers and Xerox, among others.
The S&P 500 added 0.41 per cent and the Nasdaq jumped 0.97 per cent, with each index clocking up a sixth successive advance after suffering heavy selling earlier this month.
The Dow climbed 0.40 per cent, a third straight gain.
Analysts will be watching Obama’s Japan visit for any mention of a planned Pacific-wide trade zone. Negotiations have stumbled in recent weeks over differences between the US and Japan on the auto and agriculture sectors.
Oil prices were mixed. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for June delivery, dipped five cents to $101.70 and Brent North Sea crude for June rose 10 cents to $109.37.
Gold fetched $1,283.93 an ounce at 0810 GMT, compared with $1,291.73 on Tuesday.
In other markets, Taipei fell 0.20 per cent, or 17.79 points, to 8,956.92 with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co off 0.41 per cent at Tw$121.0 while Fubon Financial Holdings shed 1.33 per cent to Tw$40.75.
The Wellington market rose 0.74 per cent, or 37.98 points, to 5,142.92 with Telecom up 0.38 per cent at NZ$2.635 and Fletcher Building climbing 1.46 per cent to NZ$9.74.
Manila closed 0.23 per cent lower, giving up 15.43 points to 6,769.52. Philippine Long Distance Telephone ended 0.62 per cent down at 2,876.00 pesos, Ayala Land dropped 0.49 per cent to 30.55 pesos and LT Group finished 0.43 per cent off at 18.68 pesos.