By Laura He, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Hong Kong and Shanghai stocks advanced Monday, after China’s central bank lowered interest rates over the weekend, while two separate gauges of China’s manufacturing activity both showed gains in February.
The Hang Seng Index (HONG:HK:HSI) finished up 0.3%, and the Shanghai Composite Index (SHG:CN:SHCOMP) moved 0.8% higher.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced Saturday that it would cut both the benchmark one-year loan rate and the one-year deposit rate by a quarter percentage point. The move is the second benchmark interest-rate cut by PBOC in a little more than three months.
Meanwhile, HSBC’s final reading for its China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed a rise to 50.7 from 49.7 in January , hitting a seven-month high, on its release Monday. A day earlier, China’s official manufacturing PMI edged up in February to 49.9, compared with 49.8 in January.
In Hong Kong, mainland Chinese banks gained broadly, with China Merchants Bank Co. (HKG:HK:3968) adding 1.4%, Bank of Communications Co., Ltd. (HKG:HK:3328) up 0.9%, and Bank of China Ltd. (HKG:HK:3988) higher by 0.7%.
Several major mainland Chinese property developers also rose substantially, as Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. (HKG:HK:3333) climbed 2.1%, and China Resources Land Ltd. (HKG:HK:1109) , a Hang Seng constituent, added 1.2%.
In Japan, the Nikkei Average (NIKKEI:JP:NIK) edged up 0.2% to 18,826.88, its highest close in 15 years. The Topix index (TOKYO:JP:180460) inched 0.1% higher. The yen (XTUP:USDJPY) weakened versus the dollar to ¥119.96, from late Friday’s ¥119.34.
Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (S&P:AU:XJO) and South Korea’s Kospi Composite Index (KOREA:KR:180721) tacked on 0.5% and 0.6%, respectively.