Asia Markets

Mainland Chinese stocks surge as they return to trade; private survey shows China's services activity expanding

Key Points
  • Markets in China returned to trade on Friday from holidays.
  • China's Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers' Index for September came in at 54.8, above the 50 level that separates expansion and contraction.
  • Markets in South Korea and Taiwan were closed on Friday for holidays.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in mainland China surged as they returned to trade on Friday from holidays.

By their Friday close, the Shanghai composite jumped 1.68% to about 3,272.08 while the Shenzhen component soared 2.958% to around 13,289.26.

The moves came as a private survey showed services sector activity in China expanding in September. The Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers' Index for September came in at 54.8. PMI readings above 50 signify expansion, while those below that level indicate contraction.

Data out of China has been watched for clues on the state of the country's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index closed 0.31% lower at 24,119.13. Shares of biopharmaceutical startup Everest Medicines jumped more than 30% from their issue price during their market debut in the city.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.12% on the day to 23,619.69 while the Topix index closed 0.49% lower at 1,647.38.

Meanwhile the S&P/ASX 200 ended its trading day flat at 6,102.20.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.24%.

Markets in South Korea and Taiwan were closed on Friday for holidays.

Investor focus on Friday was also likely on ongoing developments regarding potential new fiscal stimulus stateside. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke on Thursday about a broad coronavirus stimulus plan, after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of talks earlier in the week and called for stand-alone bills. 

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average touched its highest level in a month. The index closed 122.05 points higher, or 0.4%, at 28,425.51. The S&P 500 gained 0.8% to end its trading day at 3,446.83 while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.5% to close at 11,420.98.

The moves came as the latest U.S. weekly jobless claims data on Thursday showed an additional 840,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time. That compared against expectations by economists polled by Dow Jones of of 825,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending Oct. 3.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.377 after seeing an earlier low of 93.331.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.88 per dollar. having weakened this week from levels below 105.6 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7184, in a week that has seen it bouncing from levels below $0.712.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.3% to $43.21 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were also 0.32% lower at $41.06 per barrel.