Asia-Pacific markets started Friday lower, breaking ranks with Wall Street which mostly advanced on Thursday, amid mixed economic data from across the region.
Most notably, investors assessed China's Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers' index for November, which showed that the sector unexpectedly expanded.
The Caixin PMI reading came in at 50.7, compared to 49.5 in October and beating a Reuters poll forecast of 49.8.
This comes after official numbers Thursday showed the country's manufacturing sector contracted for a second straight month.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 inched down 0.2% and closed at 7,073.2, ending a three-day winning streak.
South Korea's Kospi tumbled 1.19%, leading losses in Asia and ending at 2,505.01, while the small cap Kosdaq was down 0.53% at 827.24.
Japan's Nikkei 225 was ended the day down 0.17% at 33,431.51, but the Topix bucked the wider trend and closed up 0.32% at 2,382.52.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 1.1% in its final hour of trade, while China's CSI 300 index dropped 0.38%, ending at 3,481.88 and hitting its lowest level since Oct. 24.
Overnight in the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a new high for the year, as cooling inflation data and strong Salesforce earnings help the benchmark cap its best month since October 2022.
Separately, the U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index — the Federal Reserve's favorite inflation gauge — rose 3.5% on a year-over-year basis, slowing from a 3.7% annual gain in prior month.
— CNBC's Pia Singh and Lisa Kailai Han contributed to this report.
India's November factory activity rebounds slightly off eight-month low
India's manufacturing activity rebounded off an eight-month low to post a faster rate of expansion in November, according to private surveys by S&P Global.
The country's manufacturing PMI came in at 56.0 in November, in line with a Reuters forecast and higher than the 55.5 seen in October.
S&P noted that easing price pressures were a main reason behind the increase, pointing out that "although average purchasing costs rose again, the rate of inflation eased to the lowest in the current 40-month sequence of increases and was negligible by historical standards."
— Lim Hui Jie
China's manufacturing activity unexpectedly expands in November: Caixin survey
China's manufacturing sector unexpectedly expanded in November, according to a survey by Caixin.
The Caixin purchasing managers' index climbed to 50.7 last month from 49.5 in October, as a rise in new orders helped lift factory production.
The November PMI recorded the fastest expansion in three months and beat Reuters poll estimates of 49.8.
"Though modest, the rate of new order growth was the best seen since June, with firms often noting that firmer market conditions had helped to lift sales. However, new work from overseas continued to fall slightly, underscoring a relatively challenging external demand environment," the survey said.
A reading above the 50-point mark signifies growth.
— Shreyashi Sanyal
Japan November factory activity contracts, October unemployment dips
Japan's factory activity contracted for a sixth straight month in November amid falling domestic and international demand, according to a private survey.
The final au Jibun Bank Japan manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to 48.3 last month from October's 48.7, but was marginally better than the initial reading of 48.1.
A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
A separate reading showed Japan's October unemployment rate fell to 2.5% from the prior month's 2.6%.
The reading was also slightly below Reuters poll forecast of 2.6%.
— Shreyashi Sanyal
South Korea factory activity unchanged, stops contraction for first time since June 2022
South Korea's factory activity has stopped a 17-month contraction streak in November, according to private surveys by S&P Global.
The country's manufacturing purchasing managers index came in at exactly 50, representing unchanged operating conditions for the sector.
S&P said that output levels broadly stabilized in November, leading to manufacturers increasing staffing levels and buying activity.
However, it added that "this masked a more subdued outlook for the coming year as firms signalled the weakest degree of optimism for five months amid concern over sustained economic weakness."
— Lim Hui Jie
CNBC Pro: Goldman Sachs loves this sub-sector in China — and names 3 stocks to buy
One corner of the economy in China is one of Goldman's top preferred sub-sectors — and six key themes will take center stage in 2024.
The bank named three Chinese stocks it says are "well positioned" for those themes.
One of the stocks is on Goldman's conviction list, which comprises buy-rated names it expects to outperform.
— Weizhen Tan
Market pricing points to five rate cuts following inflation data
As markets got another signal Thursday that inflation is ebbing, they solidified bets that the Fed is done hiking rates and will be cutting substantially in 2024.
Futures pricing suggested only a minimal chance of rate increases at the Federal Open Market Committee's December and January meetings, according to CME Group data. Moreover, futures pointed to a better-than-even chance that the central bank will cut benchmark rates five times next year, the equivalent of 1.25 percentage points.
The moves followed Thursday morning economic readings showing that core PCE inflation fell to 3.5% and continuing jobless claims rose to a two-year high.
U.S. crude falls amid skepticism about OPEC cuts
U.S. crude fell nearly 2%, erasing its gains from earlier in the day as traders worry that OPEC and its allies, OPEC+, will not deliver on promised output cuts.
The West Texas Intermediate contract for January fell $2.17, or 2.79%, to $75.75 a barrel, while Brent was was down 26 cent, or .31%, at $82.84 a barrel.
OPEC+ delegates told Reuters that the group has agreed to output cuts approaching 2 million barrels per day next year for early next year.
But traders are worried that the cuts are voluntary and not mandatory, raising the question of whether OPEC+ can really follow through, according to Phil Flynn, an analyst with the Price Futures Group, said
"The proof is going to be in the pudding," Flynn said. "Instead of having a clear answer to what is going to happen we only have promise -- the promise making people nervous," Flynn said.
-- Spencer Kimball
10-year Treasury yield falls to 4.34% after topping 5% last month
The 10-year Treasury yield has retreated significantly this month on rising hopes that the Federal Reserve may not need to raise interest rates further.
The benchmark rate has fallen 56 basis points in November to trade at 4.324% after the key bond yield topped the 5% threshold in October. On Wednesday, the rate dipped below 4.25% for the first time since September.
The 30-year Treasury yield has dropped 58 basis points this month to 4.48%. Yields decline when bond prices rise, and one basis point equals 0.01%.
— Yun Li
Dow boosted by stocks rallying more than 20% in November
The Dow is tracking for its best month this year, lifted by a handful of stocks surging more than 20%.
The 30-stock index is on pace to end November's trading month, which concludes with Thursday's close, 7.2% higher. That would mark its biggest monthly gain since October of 2022, when the blue-chip average finished 14% higher.
Salesforce and Intel has led the index higher with rallies above 22% each. A chunk of Salesforce's the gains came on Thursday as investors cheered the software company's earnings report. Intel has climbed over the course of the month, building on a late October earnings report that beat expectations and offered strong current quarter guidance.
Boeing is poised to close November more than 21% higher, making it the next biggest gainer. The stock is on track for its best month since late 2022, helped by news last week of regulatory clearance on flight tests for the 737 Max 10's certification.
— Alex Harring