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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, May 01, 2012 10:42 pm

Asia stocks up on improvement in US manufacturing


Asian stock markets rose Wednesday after a burst of manufacturing growth in the U.S. pushed the Dow Jones industrial average to its highest close in more than four years.

Japan's Nikkei 225 inched up less than 0.1 percent at 9,354.45 after a sharp tumble the day before. Other Asian markets opened higher following public holidays. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent to 21,258.14. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and mainland China also rose.

U.S. manufacturing expanded last month at its strongest pace since June, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Orders, hiring and production all rose, while a measure of manufacturing employment reached a nine-month high.

That news came on top of a similar report out of China on Tuesday that showed moderate manufacturing growth in the world's No. 2 economy.

The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers index, or PMI, rose 0.2 percentage points to 53.3 percent in April, up from March's 53.1 and February's 51.0. A reading above 50 signifies expansion.

Still, traders were looking ahead to Friday for further clues about the strength of the U.S. economy, when the Labor Department releases monthly jobs figures for April.

"Risk appetite has firmed following the release of firmer manufacturing confidence data in both the US and China but market action is likely to be limited ahead of the key US April jobs report at the end of the week," analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a report.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.5 percent to close at 13,279.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.6 percent to 1,405.82. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 percent to 3,050.44.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 35 cents to $105.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.29 to finish at $106.16 per barrel in New York.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3218 from $1.3228 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 80.09 yen from 80.21 yen.