China Stocks Soar as the Country Says Its Factory Activity Expanded in December

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  • China on Thursday said its factory activity expanded in December. The country's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December came in at 51.9, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
  • Markets in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong closed earlier than usual on Thursday due to New Year's Eve.
  • Markets in Japan and South Korea are closed on Thursday for a holiday.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Thursday, as multiple markets in the region closed early for New Year's Eve.

Mainland Chinese stocks surged on the day: the Shanghai composite climbed 1.72% to 3,473.07 while the Shenzhen component gained 1.895% to 14,470.68. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong advanced 0.31% to 27,231.13.

China on Thursday said its factory activity expanded in December. The country's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December came in at 51.9, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Analysts had expected the December figure to come in at 52, according to Reuters.

That was a slight decline compared to November's reading of 52.1. Still, the December figure was above the 50-level that separates expansion from contraction.

China and the European Union also agreed on Wednesday to an investment deal that will give firms in Europe greater access to Chinese markets, Reuters reported.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 1.43% to 6,587.10. Singapore's Straits Times index also dipped 0.89% to 2,843.81.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.19%.

Markets in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong closed earlier than usual on Thursday due to New Year's Eve.

Markets in Japan and South Korea were closed on Thursday for a holiday.

On the coronavirus front, the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca received authorization on Wednesday for emergency use in the U.K. Still, the U.K. government outlined plans on Wednesday to impose stricter coronavirus restrictions on millions of people across England as a new strain of the virus spreads across the country.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 89.618 after a recent slip from levels above 90.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.13 per dollar, having strengthened from levels above 103.8 against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7701 following a rise from levels below $0.76 seen earlier in the trading week.

Oil prices saw muted moves in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures little changed at $51.62 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dipped fractionally to $48.36 per barrel.

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