European shares reverse early losses on strong manufacturing data, shrug off weak Asian data



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TOKYO — European shares rebounded from early losses on Wednesday as a monthly survey showed factory output at a 10-month high in March, helped by strong growth in new business. Asian markets were lackluster after weak data from China and Japan.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent to 12,012.18 and Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.5 percent to 6,805.65. France's CAC 40 advanced 0.6 percent to 5,064.22. Wall Street appeared poised for a weak start, however, with S&P 500 futures 0.5 percent lower at 2,050.60.

EUROPEAN DATA: A survey of manufacturers in countries using the euro found the strongest improvement in business conditions in 10 months. Markit's purchasing managers index was at 52.2, compared with 51.0 in March. Readings above 50.0 imply expansion.

THE QUOTE: "Producers are benefiting from the weaker euro," Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist, wrote in a commentary. "New orders are consequently showing the best growth for nearly a year."

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index slipped 0.9 percent to 19,034.84 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.6 percent to 2,028.45. Australia's S&P ASX/200 fell 0.5 percent to 5,860.80. But Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent to 25,074.61 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 1.7 percent to 3,810.29 on speculation authorities will do more to ease credit. Markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.

JAPAN TANKAN: The Bank of Japan's quarterly survey of over 11,000 companies, large and small, showed most remain wary and generally plan to reduce capital investment. The results will likely reinforce the conviction that more stimulus is needed to sustain growth as Japan struggles to escape from more than two decades of stagnation. A separate survey of manufacturers showed weak demand inside Japan but more upbeat prospects for exports.

CHINA DATA: China's manufacturing was lackluster in February and industrial employers shed more jobs, two surveys showed, adding to pressure on Beijing to shore up weakening growth in the world's second-largest economy. HSBC's monthly manufacturing index, which also is based on a survey of factory purchasing managers, fell to 49.6 from 50.7 in January. Numbers below 50 show activity contracting. A separate index by an industry group edged up 0.2 points from February to 50.1.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 40 cents to $47.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.08 to close at $47.60 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 13 cents to $54.98 a barrel in London after losing $1.18 to close at $55.11 on Tuesday.

CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.0727 from $1.0739 the previous day. The dollar rose to 120.28 yen from 120.06 yen.

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