Europe shares up, Asia down on business surveys

AP and AFP

TOKYO/HONG KONG — Asian stocks fell Thursday after China’s factory output grew at the slowest pace in five months while European markets gained on a survey that showed an improvement in the region’s business activity.

European markets were mostly higher in morning trade. France’s CAC-40 recouped earlier losses to be up 0.4 percent to 4,119.55 and Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent to 8,983.94. But Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent to 6,370.86. Futures indicated gains for Wall Street. Dow futures rose 0.5 percent to 16,505 and S&P 500 futures advanced 0.5 percent to 1,934.40.

A stronger than anticipated European economic survey has raised hopes the region may avoid slipping back into recession. Financial information company Markit says its composite purchasing managers index for the 18-country eurozone, a broad gauge of business activity, rose to 52.2 points in October from 52.0 in September.

Later in the global day, major U.S. companies such as Microsoft, 3M,, Caterpillar and United Continental will be releasing earnings reports. Asian companies, including major Japanese names such as Toyota Motor Corp., are releasing their reports later in the month.

Asian markets slipped on profit-taking Thursday following the previous day’s hefty gains while there was little positive reaction after a closely watched indicator showed a slight pick-up in Chinese manufacturing activity. The dollar edged higher following a surprising rise in U.S. inflation while the euro edged up after falling on speculation that the European Central Bank will widen its bond-buying programme. Tokyo fell 0.37 percent, or 56.81 points to 15,138.96, while Seoul lost 0.27 percent, or 5.32 points, to end at 1,931.65 and Sydney edging marginally lower, easing 2.77 points to 5,383.1. Shanghai sank 1.04 percent, or 24.14 points, to 2,302.42. Hong Kong stocks slipped 0.30 percent Thursday on profit-taking after a four-day rally, while investors were unimpressed after a closely watched index of Chinese manufacturing showed a slight improvement. The Hang Seng Index fell 70.79 points to 23,333.18 on turnover of HK$50.57 billion (US$6.53 billion). The index had put on about 2.2 percent since Friday as last week’s losses fuelled by concerns over the global economy eased, and traders had also been following a strong U.S. rally.