BANGKOK -- Asian stock markets showed modest improvement Thursday after two business surveys showed an upswing in China's manufacturing sector last month.
The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its monthly PMI reading on manufacturing activity stood at 50.2 on a 100-point scale, on which numbers above 50 indicate an expansion of activity. Separately, HSBC Corp.'s survey said the number had improved to 49.5, an eight-month high.
That helped boost stocks in China and Japan. After a lower opening, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4 percent to 8,963.42. Hong Kong's Hang Seng also reversed course and headed higher, at 0.5 percent to 21,748.08. South Korea's Kospi was down 0.8 percent at 1,897.20. Mainland Chinese shares rose.
The New York Stock Exchange was closed Monday and Tuesday, and the city that is the world's financial center struggled to get back to work after a huge storm slammed into the U.S. East Coast. The trading floor reopened Wednesday but had to run on backup generators because of a power outage in lower Manhattan.
By the end of the day, stocks had barely budged, with the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 each moving less than a tenth of percentage point.
Investors will be keeping an eye on a raft of U.S. economic news to be released over the next few days, culminating in a comprehensive jobs report for October at the end of the week. This month's figures may have a more notable impact, coming ahead of Tuesday's closely fought U.S. presidential election.
Benchmark oil for December delivery rose 12 cents to $86.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 56 cents to finish at $86.24 per barrel in New York on Wednesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2965 from $1.2962 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to 80.07 yen from 79.76 yen.