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Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Upbeat China Data

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday as official data released over the weekend showed that China's factory activity returned to growth in November for the first time in seven months. A private survey of Chinese factory activity in November, released on Monday, also came in stronger than expected.

The data helped offset worries that tensions between the U.S. and China over Hong Kong could impact the ongoing trade talks. Meanwhile, China's Global Times reported that China wants the U.S. to remove existing tariffs on Chinese goods as part of a phase one trade deal.

The Australian market is advancing following the release of upbeat Chinese manufacturing data and as investors shrugged off weak local economic data.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is rising 33.00 points or 0.48 percent to 6,879.00, while the broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 31.00 points or 0.45 percent to 6,979.00. Australian stocks closed modestly lower on Friday.

The big four banks are higher. Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are advancing almost 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking is adding 0.6 percent and National Australia Bank is rising 0.2 percent.

Among utilities, APA Group is gaining almost 3 percent, Meridian Energy is rising almost 2 percent, and AGL Energy is higher by almost 1 percent.

The major miners are mostly lower. Fortescue Metals is declining 0.6 percent and and BHP is edging down 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto is rising 0.2 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices tumbled more than 5 percent on Friday. Oil Search is losing almost 1 percent, Santos is lower by 0.7 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.6 percent.

Woolworths Group has been hit was an employee class-action lawsuit alleging it underpaid at least 5,700 staff by as much as A$300 million over nine years. However, the supermarket giant's shares are adding 0.4 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the manufacturing sector in Australia fell into contraction in November, with a seasonally adjusted Performance of Manufacturing Index Score of 48.1. That's down from 51.6 in October and it slides beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. It also represents a three-year low for the index.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total number of building permits issued in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 8.1 percent on month in October, coming in at 13,049. That missed forecasts for a decline of 1.0 percent following the 7.2 percent gain in September.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics also said company operating profits in Australia were down a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2019. That missed expectations for an increase of 1.0 percent following the 4.5 percent gain in the previous three months.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is unchanged from Friday against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6764.

The Japanese market is also rising, while the safe-haven yen weakened following the release of data showing factory activity in China rose more than expected in November.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 211.17 points or 0.91 percent to 23,505.08, after touching a high of 23,552.14 in early trades. Japanese shares closed lower on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.1 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing almost 1 percent.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are adding more than 1 percent each, while Panasonic and Canon are rising almost 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is advancing more than 1 percent and Advantest is higher by 0.6 percent. Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is rising almost 2 percent and Toyota Motor is adding more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is lower by almost 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is down 0.1 percent.

Among the major gainers, Sumitomo Electric Industries and Nissan Chemical are rising more than 3 percent each, while GS Yuasa is higher by almost 3 percent.

On the economic front, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to contract in November, albeit at a slower pace, with a manufacturing PMI score of 48.9. That's up from 48.4 in October, although it remains solidly beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The Ministry of Finance said that overall capital spending in Japan was up 7.1 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2019, exceeding expectations for an increase of 5.0 percent and up from 1.9 percent in the previous three months.

Company profits tumbled 5.3 percent on quarter, shy of expectations for a drop of 2.0 percent following a decline of 12.0 percent in the second quarter. Company sales slid 2.6 percent after rising 0.4 percent in the second quarter.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 109 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia is rising more than 1 percent, while Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia are also higher. New Zealand is edging higher, while Taiwan is modestly lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday in an abbreviated trading session as traders cashed in on recent gains amid concerns rising tensions between the U.S. and China over the situation in Hong Kong could impact the ongoing trade talks. Trading activity remained relatively light, however, with many traders still away from their desks following the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday.

The Dow fell 112.59 points or 0.4 percent to 28,051.41, the Nasdaq slid 39.70 points or 0.5 percent to 8,665.47 and the S&P 500 dropped 12.65 points or 0.4 percent to 3,140.98.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices tumbled on Friday amid concerns rising tensions between the U.S. and China over the situation in Hong Kong could impact the ongoing trade talks. The resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi also contributed to the steep drop. WTI crude for January delivery plunged $2.94 or 5.1 percent to $55.17 a barrel.

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