On the first trading day of the second quarter, Chinese shares outperform the region as data suggesting a sluggish economy fueled hopes of more monetary stimulus measures.
China's official March manufacturing purchasing manager's index (PMI) unexpectedly edged up to 50.1 in March from February's 49.9, a tad above the 50-mark that that separates growth from contraction. The reading is better than the March HSBC final PMI, also released Wednesday, which showed the nation's vast manufacturing sector in contraction. The 49.6 final print, however, is stronger than the preliminary figure of 49.2.
Wednesday also sees a weaker-than-expected reading of sentiment among Japanese corporates. The headline big manufacturers index remained unchanged from the previous quarter at +12, below expectations for a reading of +14 in a Reuters poll, the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey showed.
Wall Street set the cautious mood by closing lower overnight, as investors eyed mixed economic data and the end of the first quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 1.1 percent and was the only index to decline during the January-March period. The S&P 500 index and tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.9 percent each in the previous session, but managed to post gains of 3.48 and 0.44 percent last quarter.