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Asia stocks set to slip as investors await private survey of China’s manufacturing activity

Stocks in Asia were set to trade lower on Wednesday as investors await the release of a private survey of Chinese manufacturing activity in March, expected to be out around 9:45 a.m HK/SIN.

Futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 18,815 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 18,700. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 18,917.01. The Bank of Japan’s Tankan survey for the first quarter is expected to be out around 7:50 a.m. HK/SIN on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia rose in early trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 up more than 2% as most sectors advanced.

Investors will await the release of the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ index for March, a private survey of China’s manufacturing activity. It’s set to be out at about 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN, which could provide further clues to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

On Tuesday, China said its official manufacturing PMI for March came in at 52.0, indicating an expansion and defying expectations of a contraction. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the figure to come in at 45 for the month. PMI readings below 50 signify a contraction, while figures above that level indicate an expansion.

Overnight stateside, stocks on Wall Street closed out their worst quarter ever. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 410.32 points to 21,917.16 while the S&P 500 declined 1.6% to 2,584.59. The Nasdaq Composite shed nearly 1% to 7,700.10.

The Dow and S&P 500 had their worst first-quarter performances ever, losing 23.2 and 20%, respectively. The Dow also had its worst overall quarter since 1987 while the S&P 500 had its biggest quarterly loss since 2008. 

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 99.048 after declining from levels above 99.5 seen earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.60 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 108 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6132 after seeing an earlier low of $0.6107.

What’s on tap for Wednesday:

  • Japan: Bank of Japan Tankan survey for first quarter at 7:50 a.m. HK/SIN
  • China: Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for March at 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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