BANGKOK -- Asian stock markets rose Thursday as investors kept their sights on a possible improvement in the Chinese economy.
A key survey of Chinese manufacturing activity rose to a three-month high in October, easing concerns that China might experience an abrupt economic "hard landing" rather than a gradual slowdown. The survey, released Wednesday, showed that industrial production continues to shrink, but not as sharply as in the past.
"There are positive signs pointing to further gains ahead, with new orders improving and manufacturers finally reporting that they are running down inventories of unsold goods," analysts at Capital Economics said in a market commentary.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.6 percent to 9,007.88. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2 percent to 21,800.59. South Korea's Kospi was marginally higher at 1,915.11. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 4,518.20.
More evidence of an improving outlook for the global economy could come later Thursday, when the U.S. government releases U.S. durable goods orders for September. Economists expect the data to show improvement.
The U.S. Federal Reserve announced no new steps at the end of a two-day meeting Wednesday, but many economists think that the Fed will provide more assistance at its last meeting of the year on Dec. 11-12.
The Fed said the economy is still expanding moderately but that growth has been slow and unemployment remains elevated.
Stocks on Wall Street fell Wednesday, but the losses were not as steep as the day before.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.2 percent to 13,077.34. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 0.3 percent to 1,408.75. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.3 percent to 2,981.70.
Benchmark oil for December delivery was up 15 cents to $85.85 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 94 cents to finish at $85.73 per barrel on Wednesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2981 from $1.2944 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to 79.97 yen from 79.94 yen.
Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson