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James Hyerczyk
Asian Stock Indexes

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed on Monday but mostly lower with both the Nikkei and Shanghai indexes posting more than 1.50% gains while the others sputtered. Japanese shares snapped six consecutive sessions of losses on Monday after the Yen retreated from a 4-1/2-month high against the dollar. Chinese stock jumped as key manufacturing data came in above expectations.

On Monday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22195.38, up 485.38 or +2.24%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 24458.13, down 137.22 or -0.56% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2251.04, up 1.67 or -0.07%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3367.97, up 57.96 or +1.75% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 5926.10, down 1.70 or -0.03%.

China’s Factory Activity Expanded

Sentiment was helped by a survey showing China’s factory activity expanded at the fastest pace in nearly a decade in July, with the Caixin/Markit PMI at 52.8, above expectations for a reading of 51.3 by economists in a Reuters poll. PMI readings above 50 signify expansion, while those that fall below that figure indicate contraction.

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US-China Tensions Remain at Forefront

Tensions between Washington and Beijing likely continued being watched by investors, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump is set to announce “in the coming days” new actions related to Chinese software companies viewed by his administration as a national security threat.

On Friday, Trump told reporters he will act soon to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok from the U.S., according to NBC News. Microsoft on Sunday confirmed it has held talks to buy TikTok in the U.S. from Chinese tech firm ByteDance.

Nikkei Rebounds on Wall Street Gains, Yen’s Retreat

Japanese shares ended six straight sessions of losses on Monday after the Japanese Yen retreated from a 4-1/2-month high against the dollar in a short squeeze. Exporters got a boost as the Yen fell to a low of 106.40 Yen against the dollar, moving away from a high of 104.195 yen touched on Friday.

Hang Seng Dragged Down by HSBC First-Half Profits Miss

HSBC reported a 65% fall in pre-tax profits for the first half of 2020 to $4.3 billion – missing analysts’ expectations.

Chief Executive Noel Quinn said the bank was “impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, falling interest rates, increased geopolitical risk and heightened levels of market volatility.”

HSBC shares in Hong Kong tumbled by more than 3% when trading resumed after a lunch break.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

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