China stocks rise after factory activity data; Japan's Nikkei 225 closes below 40,000

Shreyashi Sanyal
Lim Hui Jie

This is CNBC's live blog covering Asia-Pacific markets.

Commuters walking at Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

China stocks rose Monday as investors assessed the country's business activity, while Japan stocks closed lower as business optimism fell.

China's National Bureau of Statistics data showed that manufacturing activity expanded in March, with the purchasing managers index registering a reading of 50.8, compared to February's reading of 49.1.

Economists polled by Reuters expected a reading of 49.9, which still represented a contraction in the sector.

The Caixin Global manufacturing survey for March showed China's factory activity expanded at its fastest rate in 13 months. The private PMI reading came in at 51.1, above expectations for 51.

China's CSI 300 index gained about 1.64% after the reading, closing at 3,595.65.

Separately, Japan's first-quarter Tankan survey showed that business optimism among large manufacturers fell, with the gauge at +11 compared with +12 in the last survey.

However, optimism among non-manufacturers rose, with the Tankan gauge at +34 compared with +30 in the fourth quarter and beating Reuters expectations of +33.

The survey gauges business sentiment, which the Bank of Japan monitors when formulating monetary policy.

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.4% to close at 39,803.09, well below the 40,000 mark. The broad-based Topix fell 1.71% to 2,721.22.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.04% to 2,747.86, and the small cap Kosdaq gained 0.77% to close at 912.45.

Australian and Hong Kong markets are closed for Easter Monday.

TICKERCOMPANYNAMEPRICECHANGE%CHANGE
.N225Nikkei 225 IndexNIKKEI38,646.11-457.11-1.17%
.HSIHang Seng IndexHSI18,608.94-259.77-1.38%
.AXJOS&P/ASX 200ASX 2007,727.60-84.20-1.08%
.SSECShanghaiSHANGHAI3,088.87-27.52-0.88%
.KS11KOSPI IndexKOSPI2,687.60-34.21-1.26%
.FTFCNBCACNBC 100 ASIA IDXCNBC 1009,689.74-89.39-0.91%

On Good Friday in the U.S., February's inflation rose in line with expectations from Dow Jones, with the the personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy increasing 2.8% on a 12-month basis and up 0.3% from a month ago.

Including volatile food and energy costs, the headline PCE reading showed a 0.3% increase for the month and 2.5% at the 12-month rate, compared to estimates for 0.4% and 2.5%.

— CNBC's Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

Mon, Apr 1 2024 12:47 AM EDT

Gold prices soar to record high on hopes of Fed cut

Gold prices extended their rally on Monday, scaling to a new record.

The optimism was helped by U.S. interest rate cut expectations and bullion's appeal as a safe haven asset.

Spot gold added 1.32% to trade at $2,265.53 per ounce. U.S. gold futures rose more than 2% to trade at $2,286.39 per ounce.

"I think it's a really exciting moment in gold," said World Gold Council's market strategist Joseph Cavatoni. "What's really driving it is, I think, many market speculators really getting that confidence and comfort [in] the Fed cuts," he said.

Gold prices tend to share an inverse relationship with interest rates.

— Lee Ying Shan

Sun, Mar 31 2024 11:21 PM EDT

Japan's Nikkei 225 slips below 40,000

The logo of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, operated by Japan Exchange Group Inc., is displayed at the bourse in Tokyo, Japan, on Oct. 2, 2020.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1.5% to last trade at 39,762.85, falling below the 40,000 mark for the first time in 12 days.

The index had rallied to 40,000 in early March and has hit multiple record highs since. It had even crossed 41,000 to hit an all-time high of 41,087.75 on March 22.

This comes after the Bank of Japan ended its negative interest rates regime in mid-March, along with other unconventional easing tools aimed at reflating Japan's economy.

The Japanese yen traded at 151.29 to the U.S. dollar after hitting a 34-year low of 151.97 last week.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Sun, Mar 31 2024 10:07 PM EDT

Rakuten confirms it is considering reorganization of fintech business; shares jump 4%

The logo of Japanese tech giant Rakuten logo seen at the Mobile World Congress 2019.

Rakuten Group confirmed it is considering a reorganization of its financial technology businesses.

Shares of the Japanese firm jumped 4%.

"As reported, it is true that Rakuten Group, Inc. is considering a reorganization of the FinTech businesses. We will promptly announce any matters requiring disclosure if they arise," Rakuten said in a statement.

The statement confirms a Nikkei report, which also said that the company's cards and securities units, including Rakuten Bank, will be merged by October.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Sun, Mar 31 2024 10:08 PM EDT

China's factory activity expands at fastest pace in 13 months: Caixin survey

China's factory activity expanded at its fastest rate in 13 months, according to the Caixin Global Manufacturing survey for March.

The country's manufacturing purchasing managers index climbed to 51.1, topping the 51.0 expected by economists and higher than the 50.8 announced in official data.

Caixin wrote that the increase was "driven by greater inflows of new work, including from abroad."

As such, Chinese manufacturers increased production, while also raising their purchasing levels amid improved optimism.

— Lim Hui Jie

Sun, Mar 31 2024 9:19 PM EDT

South Korea's factory activity slips into contraction in March

South Korea's factory activity slipped into contraction territory in March, following two straight months of expansion.

The country's purchasing manager's index came in at 49.8, down from 50.7 in February.

S&P Global wrote in its report that panel members largely attributed this to subdued demand and downgraded investment plans.

It also added that "a number of firms mentioned that sales remained muted amid weakness in the domestic economy in particular."

— Lim Hui Jie

Sun, Mar 31 2024 8:50 PM EDT

Japan factory activity shrinks for 10th straight month in March, PMI data shows

Japan's manufacturing activity shrank for the 10th straight month in March, according to a private survey published Monday.

The S&P Global final au Jibun Bank Japan manufacturing purchasing managers' index came in at 48.2 last month.

"The performance of the Japanese manufacturing sector remained downbeat at the end of the first quarter of 2023, though there were signs that the worst of the weakness had passed," the survey read.

A PMI reading below 50 signifies a contraction, while above is an expansion.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Sun, Mar 31 2024 8:41 PM EDT

Business sentiment among large Japan manufacturers falls slightly

Business optimism among large Japanese manufacturers fell in the first quarter, according to the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey, with the gauge at +11 compared with +12 in the last survey.

Economists polled by Reuters expected a +10 reading for large manufacturers.

However, optimism among nonmanufacturers rose to its highest level since August 1991, with the Tankan gauge at +34 compared with +30 in the fourth quarter and beating Reuters expectations of +33.

The Tankan survey is also monitored by the BOJ when formulating monetary policy.

— Lim Hui Jie

Sun, Mar 31 2024 8:05 PM EDT

China's factory activity expands in March, surprising expectations

Employees work on the production line of motorcycle and electric bicycle wheel hubs at a factory in Huaibei, Anhui Province of China, on March 30, 2024.

China's factory activity expanded in March, snapping a five-month streak in contraction territory and surprising expectations.

The country's manufacturing purchasing manager's index came in at 50.8, according to official data.

This compares with the 49.1 seen in February and the 49.9 expected by the Reuters poll, which represents a contractionary figure.

Separately, nonmanufacturing PMI rose to 53.0, up from the 51.4 seen in January.

— Lim Hui Jie

Sun, Mar 31 2024 7:28 PM EDT

CNBC Pro: This payments firm has Nvidia-like profit margins and is more sustainable, says fund manager

The rapid rise in Nvidia's share price amid the artificial intelligence hype has left some investors questioning the sustainability of the company's valuation.

With the stock trading at a lofty 2.5% free cash flow (FCF) yield for next year, some investors are urging caution. Historically, Nvidia traded at a 4% FCF yield before the pandemic.

Instead, Hannah Gooch-Peters, global equity investment analyst at Sanlam Investments, believes there are other stocks with a 60% operating profit margin, like Nvidia's, that are more sustainable as investment opportunities.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

Sun, Mar 31 2024 7:28 PM EDT

CNBC Pro: AI is power-intensive. Top Morgan Stanley portfolio manager says that's an opportunity for one stock

Many tech companies are rapidly developing infrastructure for artificial intelligence as they compete for dominance in this red-hot market.

AI is very power-intensive — and its power needs are only set to rise in the coming years.

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CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

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