Sydney - Asian shares clinched slender gains on Tuesday as improved manufacturing data from China, Japan and the United States augured well for global growth, despite a disappointing result from the euro zone.
Though moves were modest as markets slipped into something of a summer lull, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan managed to gain 0.3 percent.
Japan's Nikkei lagged by losing 0.36 percent, but South Korea outperformed with a rise of almost 1 percent, led by Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor.
“Market heavyweights closely follow global economic recovery, and the manufacturing surveys in the US and China have provided positive signals,” said Hyundai Securities market analyst Bae Sung-young.
The performance of manufacturing surveys (PMI) tend to be reliable, and timely, leading indicators of output trends and are closely watched by economists.
So there was relief that readings from the United States, China and Japan all rose strongly in the month. The US PMI was a particularly pleasant surprise as it climbed to a four-year peak of 57.5.
That helped offset an unexpected dip in Markit's euro zone PMI to 52.8 in June from May's 53.5.
David Hensley, an economist at JPMorgan, said the PMI's taken as a whole pointed to a quickening in global industrial output, perhaps to as much as a 5 percent annualised pace.
“Emerging Asia lies at the centre of global manufacturing, so any acceleration in global activity normally would be confirmed there,” he added.
“The continued recovery in China's manufacturing PMI is a positive sign, both outright and because China's survey typically is aligned with the broader EM complex. The trend in official data for EM Asia ex China remains murky, however.”
The data were still not enough to enliven Wall Street where the Dow ended Monday off 0.06 percent and the S&P 500 0.01 percent, while the Nasdaq added 0.01 percent.
The disappointing euro zone PMI's also weighed on the euro, while the better Chinese data boosted commodity-exposed currencies including the Australian dollar.
The euro was flat at $1.3592 while the Aussie was up at $0.9424 having touched a three-month peak overnight.
Against the yen, the common currency stood at 138.45 , while the dollar fetched 101.87.
That left the dollar index a shade firmer at 80.302, though well within 80.000-81.000 range seen since May.
The economic diary is bare for much of Asia on Tuesday though Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should detail more of his so-called “Third Arrow” policies including phased corporate tax cuts, public pension reforms and proposed dance hall deregulation.
Given that many have already been leaked or announced by officials, the risk is that the measures are likely to receive a lukewarm response from investors. Still, the market will be keen to see how they are fleshed out and implemented.
In commodity markets, gold was underpinned by geopolitical tensions amid the increasing violence in Iraq, while platinum eased as South African miners' union declared an official end to a five-month strike.
Spot gold was sitting tight at $1,316.10 an ounce as the market consolidated last week's 3 percent jump.
Brent crude edged back from nine-month highs as concerns waned that a Sunni Islamist insurgency in Iraq would cut the country's oil exports.
Brent dipped 23 cents to $113.89 a barrel and US crude for August delivery shed 51 cents to $105.66. - Reuters