HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan rose Tuesday, boosted by an unexpected expansion in Chinese manufacturing activity in March.
The Nikkei Asia300 index advanced 2.1% to 1,114.41.
Data released on Tuesday showed that China's manufacturing activity surprisingly expanded this month. The official manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index) posted a reading of 52 in March, well above the 35.7 print in the previous month and exceeding a reading of 45 expected by economists polled by Reuters.
The non-manufacturing PMI, too, rebounded from 29.6 to 52.3. The composite PMI picked up from 28.9 to 53.
While the data were better-than-expected, economists said there were obstacles to a protracted recovery.
Capital Economics said the data "simply suggest that economic activity improved modestly relative to February's dismal showing." Nomura said it saw two main headwinds in the form of a second wave of coronavirus infections and slumping external demand.
Meanwhile, the number of known coronavirus cases in the world approached 800,000, according to the tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The cases in the U.S. continued to increase daily by 20,000 and the nation has now more than 160,000 infected people.
Chinese companies were the biggest contributors to the A300's advance on Tuesday. An index of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong added 2.1%.
Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) advanced 3.7% after reporting a 4.6% increase in last year's net profit.
CITIC, a Chinese financial service to real estate conglomerate, added 4% after saying Tuesday that its net profit last year rose 7.3%, driven by higher contribution from financial services and special steel businesses.