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Asian stocks mixed following modest gains on Wall Street

MANILA, Philippines – Asian shares were mixed Tuesday following modest gains on Wall Street and a contraction of an indicator of Japanese manufacturing activity in March, the first in 10 months.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 1.9 per cent to 17,048.55. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed early gains and was down 0.2 per cent at 20,663.82. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.4 perent to 1,996.81 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 edged up 0.1 per cent at 5,230.80. The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.3 per cent at 3,008.31. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “There is an uneasy calm that descended on the world’s financial markets,” IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said. “While volatility has been drastically reduced since February, there are a number of red flags that traders should be looking at. This could be the time for contrarian trading, although price has yet to really respond.”

JAPAN MANUFACTURING: Japanese shares rose as the yen weakened, despite the release of a preliminary survey showing a deteriorating outlook for manufacturing in March. Contrary to expectations of an improvement, the Nikkei “flash” purchasing managers index fell to 49.1 from 50.1 last month. It was the first dip below the 50 level dividing expectations of expansion versus contraction since April 2015.

WALL STREET GAINS: Major U.S. stock indexes eked out modest gains on Monday, extending the market’s winning streak into a fourth day. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 21.57 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 17,623.87. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 2.02 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,051.60. The Nasdaq composite gained 13.23 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,808.87.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 16 cents to $41.68 a barrel in New York. On Monday, it rose 38 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to close at $41.52 a barrel. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, also rose 16 cents to $41.70. It gained 34 cents on Monday, closing at $41.54 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was nearly flat at 112.11 yen from 112.08. The euro rose to $1.1258 from $1.1242.