Asia stocks rise, China manufacturing slows

Wednesday, 2 March 2011 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose in early trade on Tuesday, tracking U.S. shares which gained on optimistic remarks from influential investor Warren Buffett, while Chinese manufacturing growth slowed to a six-month low.

Japan ‘s benchmark Nikkei average climbed 0.7 percent and the broader Topix index rose 0.9 percent, while Australian shares also gained.

Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, told shareholders in his widely read annual letter that he saw the need for “major acquisitions,” a sign stocks may be cheap.

Chinese manufacturing growth slowed in February, according to an official survey, as the government’s sustained campaign to tame inflation weighed on industrial activity.

High global commodity prices complicated the task of monetary tightening, pushing a gauge of industrial input prices to a three-month high in China’s official purchasing managers’ index.

The overall PMI, which is designed to provide a snapshot of conditions in the manufacturing sector, fell to 52.2 in February from 52.9 in January, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said.

“Inflation pressures are rising but economic activity is slowing. Slower economic growth is good for cooling inflation,” said Wang Hu, economist at Guotai Junan Securities in Shanghai.

China’s battle with inflation is a key market factor, and some foreign investors may favour Japanese stocks, analysts said.

“U.S. and European investors have been the main players in the Japanese market. But Asian investors have joined in as Japan is one of the few countries with a low risk of rate hikes,” said Shun Maruyama, chief strategist at Credit Suisse .