Hong Kong, Sept.1 (BNA): Asian shares edged higher on Friday as China stepped up efforts to support its housing sector and stabilise the yuan, though investors remained cautious ahead of U.S. jobs data that could make or break the case for further rate hikes.
U.S. consumer spending increased by the most in six months in July, but slowing monthly inflation rates cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates unchanged next month. U.S August payrolls data tonight could offer more clues.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.15 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.45 per cent, reports Reuters.
All eyes are on Beijing’s efforts to revive the crisis-hit property sector and weak consumption, which are weighing heavily on the ailing economy.
China’s factory activity surprisingly returned to expansion in August, beating estimates, a private-sector survey showed on Friday. Supply, domestic demand and employment improved, suggesting official efforts to spur growth might be having some effect.
Meanwhile, the country’s central bank said on Friday it will cut the amount of foreign exchange that financial institutions must hold as reserves for first time this year, a move aimed at slowing the pace of recent yuan depreciation.
China’s onshore yuan firmed to 7.2360 per dollar in early trade after the cuts.
China’s benchmark index was up 0.63 per cent, with the real estate gauge rising 0.97 per cent.
Hong Kong’s cash stock market was closed for the day as super typhoon Saola approached southern China, but Hang Seng index futures rose 0.23 per cent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.39 per cent in early trading. Benchmark 10-year notes yield fell by 1.7 basis points to 4.1081 per cent, from 4.091 per cent.
U.S. crude rose 0.24 per cent to $83.83 per barrel and Brent was at $87.03, up 0.23 per cent on the day. Spot gold added 0.1 per cent to $1,942.18 an ounce.
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