Asia Markets

Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as investors react to China's manufacturing activity data, U.S. presidential debate

Key Points
  • China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for September came in at 51.5 on Wednesday as compared to 51.0 in August, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics.
  • Meanwhile, a private manufacturing survey also showed manufacturing activity expanding in September, with the Caixin/Markit PMI coming in at 53.0.
  • Shares of Japanese telecommunications firms were watched on Wednesday following a recent shakeup in the sector, with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) set to take over its telecommunications unit, NTT Docomo.
  • The fiery first U.S. presidential debate between incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden could also have weighed on investor sentiment, with the two constantly exchanging sharp remarks in a face-to-face challenge.

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were mixed on Wednesday as investors reacted to the release of China's manufacturing activity data for September.

Mainland Chinese markets were mixed on the day, with the Shanghai composite down 0.2% to about 3,218.05 while the Shenzhen component was fractionally higher at around 12,907.45.

Japan markets were lower, with the Nikkei 225 shedding 1.5% to close at 23,185.12 while the Topix index declined 1.97% to finish its trading day at 1,625.49.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.79% to close at 23,459.05. Shares of China Evergrande Group listed in the city soared 19.39% after the property developer struck a deal with some investors of its unit, Hengda Real Estate. Evergrande's stock has been extremely volatile in recent days amid concerns over the firm's financial situation.

Elsewhere, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 2.29% to close at 5,815.90. Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was near flat, about 0.05% higher.

Markets in South Korea were closed Wednesday for a holiday.

Chinese economic data watch

On the economic data front, China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for September came in at 51.5 on Wednesday as compared to 51.0 in August, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected the official manufacturing PMI to come in at 51.2 in September. PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion from the previous month, while those below that figure signal contraction.

Meanwhile, a private manufacturing survey also showed manufacturing activity expanding in September, with the Caixin/Markit PMI coming in at 53.0. Analysts polled by Reuters expected the Caixin/Markit PMI for September to come in at 53.1 — the same level as August.

The private survey features a bigger mix of small- and medium-sized firms. In comparison, the official PMI survey typically polls a large proportion of big businesses and state-owned companies. Chinese economic data has been watched by investors for further clues on the Chinese economy's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan telco shares mixed

Shares of Japanese telecommunications firms were closely watched following a recent shakeup in the sector, with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) set to take over its telecommunications unit, NTT Docomo.

Shares of NTT fell 3.61% on Wednesday while NTT Docomo surged 20.92%. Meanwhile, shares of NTT Docomo's mobile peers were lower — SoftBank Corp dipped 1.13% while KDDI shed 0.34%.

The move by NTT comes as new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga calls on wireless carriers to reduce prices, according to Reuters, with the hope that the savings generated will stimulate consumer spending elsewhere in the economy.

Meanwhile, the fiery first U.S. presidential debate between incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden could also have weighed on investor sentiment, with the two constantly exchanging sharp remarks in a face-to-face challenge.

In coronavirus developments, Regeneron said its REGN-COV2 drug reduced viral levels and improved symptoms in non-hospitalized coronavirus patients.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 94.048 following an earlier low of 93.792.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.63 per dollar, having seen an earlier low of 105.80 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7115 after touching an earlier high of $0.7149.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert and Huileng Tan contributed to this report.