Shares in Asia kick off Nov. with mostly positive trade; Softbank dives over 8%

Shares in Asia were mainly higher in the first afternoon of November trading after a roller coaster October rocked stocks in the region.

The Greater China markets were higher by the conclusion of the morning session. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.84 percent while the Shanghai composite advanced 1.13 percent and the Shenzhen composite saw gains of 2.018 percent.

Those gains were supported by the Thursday morning report of the Caixin-IHS Markit October Purchasing Managers’ index (PMI), which came in at 50.1 for October. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the reading to have dipped slightly to 49.9 from 50.0 in September. The survey covers small and medium-sized enterprises in the country, and a reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

Kudlow says ‘nothing is set in stone’ on China tariffs

Chinese economic data has been particularly in focus in recent months as the U.S.-China trade war continues to worry investors and businesses. On Wednesday, the country missed expectations with its official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, which covers large companies and state-owned enterprises, indicating that Chinese manufacturing growth has been weaker than anticipated.

In other trade war news, U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC on Wednesday that “nothing is set in stone right now” on whether Washington will impose additional tariffs on Beijing.

Kudlow said “policy talks” will determine whether the White House imposes new duties, “not an arbitrary timeline.” The National Economic Council director added that he would not spell out the specific demands Trump wants China to meet in order for him to reduce tariffs. But he noted that the president has repeatedly pushed for Beijing to address alleged intellectual property theft and barriers to U.S. imports.

Kudlow’s comments came following reports that said Trump could implement more tariffs on China as the trade frictions escalate.

Other Asian markets mixed

Japan’s Nikkei 225 remained in negative territory, however, falling by 0.7 percent while the Topix shed 0.44 percent. Tech giants were in focus, with shares of Panasonic plunging 7.16 percent and conglomerate Softbank diving more than 8 percent.

Dan Baker, an analyst at Morningstar, said Softbank’s significant decline may be due to news about one of its Japanese telecom rivals lowering fees. Still, he added, Thursday’s stock slip “seems like a big movement” given domestic telecommunications’ “smaller contribution” to the company’s overall value.

In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 shed much of its earlier gains to trade largely flat in the afternoon. Still, the materials sector advanced 1.35 percent, with shares of major miners posting gains: Rio Tinto was up 2.34 percent, Fortescue Metals advanced 2.63 percent and BHP Billiton jumped 3.07 percent.

The move in BHP’s stock followed an announcement where the company said it plans to return $10.4 billion to its shareholders through the combination of an off-market buyback and a special dividend.

BHP said it would target an off-market share buyback of $5.2 billion immediately and plans to pay the remainder of the proceeds from its onshore U.S. assets sale in the form of a special dividend.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi saw gains of 0.71 percent.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.836 after seeing an earlier high of 97.115.

The Japanese yen was at 112.85 against the dollar after strengthening from levels around 113.3 in the previous session.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7129 after seeing an earlier low of $0.7070. The moves in the Aussie dollar came after the country’s trade surplus came in above expectations.

Source: CNBC

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