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Soaring costs throw cold water on Asian factory pickup

PMIs show companies struggling to pass on higher commodity prices

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Clouds gather above the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore.   © Reuters

HONG KONG   Factory activity gauges for January show most Asian economies in expansionary territory -- save for Malaysia, South Korea and Hong Kong. But manufacturers are not out of the woods: Fast-rising input costs are casting a shadow on their profitability. 

The headline Nikkei ASEAN Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index logged a reading of 50 for January, rising to the boom-or-bust line for the first time in four months. A measure above 50.0 indicates expansion, while anything below signals contraction. 

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