Japan's Nikkei 225 jumps nearly 1% as the second quarter kicks off

  • Australia's retail sales data for February is expected to be out at around 8:30 a.m. HK/SIN.
  • A private survey of China's factory activity in March is also expected to be released on Thursday, with the Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index set to be out at around 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN.

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  • .N225
  • .KS11
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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific rose in Thursday morning trade as the second quarter kicks off with several economic data releases expected across the region.

Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 0.95% in early trade while the Topix index gained 0.66%. South Korea's Kospi also rose 0.69%.

Shares in Australia edged higher as the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.19%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares traded 0.14% higher.

Economic data

A slew of economic data releases are expected across the region on Thursday. The headline large manufacturers index in the Bank of Japan's quarterly tankan business sentiment survey came in at 5, against expectation of a 0 reading in a Reuters poll.

Australia's retail sales and trade data for February is set to be released around 8:30 a.m. HK/SIN.

A private survey of China's factory activity in March is also expected, with the Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) slated to be published around 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN.

China's official manufacturing PMI released Wednesday came in at 51.9, higher than February's reading of 50.6. PMI readings above 50 signify expansion while those below that level represent contraction. PMI readings are sequential and represent month-on-month expansion or contraction.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 closed 0.36% higher at 3,972.89 while the Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.54% to finish its trading day at 13,246.87. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, on the other hand, dipped 85.41 points to close at 32,981.55.

For the quarter, the Dow and S&P 500 gained 7.8% and 5.8%, respectively. The Nasdaq was the relative underperformer as tech stocks are particularly sensitive to rising rates due to their dependence on borrowing cheap money to invest in their future growth. Still, it gained 2.8% for the quarter.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a more than $2 trillion infrastructure package on Wednesday. The plan's goals include the revitalization of America's transportation infrastructure as well as manufacturing.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.219. That was weaker than levels above 93.2 seen earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.76 per dollar, still weaker as compared to levels below 109.6 against the greenback seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7583, having slipped from above $0.765 earlier in the week.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.35% to $62.96 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.47% to $59.44 per barrel.

Here's a look at what's on tap:

  • Australia: Retail sales and trade data for February at 8:30 a.m. HK/SIN
  • China: Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index at 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC's Yun Li contributed to this report.

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