Asian Stocks Mixed; Shanghai Higher on Strong China Factory Data

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian shares were mixed on Monday, with Shanghai gaining 1% after surveys showed improvements in manufacturing conditions in China.

Sydney and Hong Kong were closed for the Easter Monday holiday.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 1.4%, to 39,803.09, after a Bank of Japan quarterly survey on business conditions showed sentiment among large manufacturers, which include auto and electronics giants, declined in March for the first time in a year.

The Shanghai Composite index gained 1% to 3,070.09.

China's National Bureau of Statistics released survey data on Sunday that showed the country's official manufacturing PMI, or purchasing managers index, coming in at 50.8 in March, its strongest reading since March 2023.

A similar but separate survey, the Caixin/S&P Global China manufacturing purchasing managers' index was 51.1 in March -- its strongest since February 2023. It was at 50.9 in February.

"Chinese manufacturers increased production, while also raising their purchasing levels amid improved optimism," the report said.

"A slew of policies introduced earlier this year to stabilize growth are gradually having an effect," Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, said in a statement.

China's target for "about 5%" economic growth is "ambitious," he said. Given pressures that are constraining employment and keeping prices low, efforts will be needed to make growth more efficient and improve its quality, he added.

The World Bank released a report forecasting that economies in developing countries of East Asia and the Pacific will grow 4.5% this year, down from 5.1% in 2023. It estimates that China's economy will expand at a 4.5% annual pace this year, down from 5.2% in 2023.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi edged less than 0.1% higher, to 2,747.86 and the Sensex in India was up 0.6%. In Bangkok, the SET rose 0.2%.

Markets in the U.S. and Europe were closed on Friday. European markets will remain closed Monday, while U.S. markets will reopen.

On Thursday, Wall Street coasted to its latest winning month and quarter by rising to more records. The S&P 500 rose 0.1%, adding to its all-time high set the day before.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up 0.1% to 39,807.37 and likewise set a record. The Nasdaq composite dipped 0.1% to 16,379.46.

In other trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 151.40 Japanese yen from 151.29 yen. The euro edged lower, to $1.0784 from $1.0794.

This week will bring a slew of U.S. economic data, including trade, jobless claims, vehicle sales, and nonfarm payrolls and unemployment.

The U.S. stock market has been on a nearly unstoppable run since late October, and the S&P 500 just capped its fifth straight winning month. It has leaped as the U.S. economy has remained remarkably solid despite high interest rates meant to get inflation under control.

And with inflation hopefully still cooling from its peak, the Federal Reserve has indicated it will likely cut interest rates several times later this year.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 26 cents to $83.43 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was up $1.82 per barrel on Thursday, before markets closed for Good Friday and Easter.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 23 cents to $87.23 per barrel. On Thursday, it surged $1.59 to $87.00 per barrel.