Asian shares mixed on weak Japan manufacturing data

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mixed Friday after another day of gains on Wall Street amid a deluge of news about the economy, interest rates and corporate profits.

Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong gained while Sydney and Seoul declined. US futures edged lower while oil prices rose.

A preliminary reading on factory activity for Japan showed output and new orders contracting to their worst levels in months. Companies blamed shortages of raw materials and rising costs, but demand may be weakening as the country endures yet another wave of coronavirus outbreaks, economists said.

July’s purchasing manager indexes “suggest that the manufacturing sector is slowing as demand weakens, while the latest COVID-19 is starting to hit the service sector,” Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Japan reported its inflation rose at a slower pace in June, with food prices growing 6.5% year-on-year compared to 12.3% in May and the increase in energy costs falling to 16.5% from 20.8%. Core inflation excluding volatile energy and food prices rose to 2.6% from 2.2% the month before.

The Bank of Japan has indicated that the Federal Reserve and other central banks, however, it does not intend to raise its minus 0.1% benchmark interest rate to counter the trend given that wages are not rising in tandem with prices, constraining consumer demand.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.4% to 27,914.66, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.3% to 20,624.18. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost less than 0.1% to 6,791.50.

In South Korea, the Kospi declined 0.6% to 2,393.14. The Shanghai Composite index edged 0.1% higher to 3,274.15.

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