The Hong Kong and China markets started December on a strong note, boosted by positive manufacturing data from the world's second-largest economy released on Tuesday.
The Hang Seng Index had gained 0.9 per cent to 26,586.21 at the midday break, after its biggest drop in six weeks on Monday. The Shanghai Composite also rose, by 1.3 per cent, after a monthly gain of 5.3 per cent.
The Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 54.9 in November from 53.6 in October, its sharpest improvement in 10 years. The data also beat the expectations of a Bloomberg survey, which pointed to a slight decline to 53.5. A reading above 50 means that activity in the sector is expanding. The Caixin/Markit PMI focuses more on small, private firms unlike the official index, whose respondents come mostly from larger, state-owned companies.
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China's official manufacturing PMI, released on Monday, stood at 52.1 in November, rising from 51.4 in October to its highest level since September 2017.
In Hong Kong, Wuxi Biologics, which is researching coronavirus drugs, led the gains among blue chips on the benchmark Hang Seng Index. Its existing shares gained 5.4 per cent, while new shares that emerged after a stock split last month gained 4 per cent.
Chinese food delivery giant Meituan-Dianping gained as much as 3.3 per cent to HK$299.60. The company reported a 28.8 per cent surge in revenue to 35.4 billion yuan (US$5.4 billion) in the quarter ended September 30, up from 27.5 billion yuan in the same period last year, after the market closed on Monday. That was ahead of a market consensus of 34 billion yuan compiled by Bloomberg.
Brokerage UOB Kay Hian maintained a buy rating for Meituan-Dianping and raised its target price to HK$343.00 from HK$328.00, on expectations that the company would continue to expand its market share in the food delivery segment. It was also expected to increase its presence in the fresh groceries segment, analyst Julia Pan said in a report on Tuesday.
Cnooc fell 4.8 per cent. The state-owned oil giant crashed 14 per cent on Monday after Reuters reported that the Trump administration was poised to add China's top offshore oil and gas producer to a sanctions list, threatening to cripple its international operations.
Investors also weighed tightened social distancing restrictions in Hong Kong amid rising Covid-19 infections against new developments on the coronavirus vaccine front.
After trading hours on Monday, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the city's leader, announced that Hong Kong will revert to a series of tough social-distancing measures to tackle a surge in Covid-19 infections. These include restricting public gatherings to only two people at a time, reduced restaurant dine-in hours, closure of more entertainment venues, civil servants working from home once again, a sharp increase in fines for non-compliance and a hotline for reporting offenders.
Overnight, US firm Moderna said it will file for emergency authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Europe on Monday, after full results confirmed a high efficacy estimated at 94.1 per cent.
On the mainland, Chinese banks led the gains, with a gauge tracking the sector rising 3.7 per cent according to Eastmoney.com. Bank of Xi'an rose by the upper trading limit of 10 per cent to 5.95 yuan, while China Merchants Bank gained 4.6 per cent to 46.21 yuan.
Yunnan Jianzhijia Health Chain, which operates drug stores in China, gained 44 per cent from its initial public offering price of 72.89 yuan in Shanghai.
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