Most of the Asian stock market indices were trading lower, with China's Shanghai Composite Index down 0.23% at 2,997.09 on Friday, 1 April at 5.52am GMT. This was despite better-than-expected manufacturing data in the world's second biggest economy. China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for March stood at 50.2. This was more than the 49.3 earlier forecast and indicated the country's return to growth for the first time since July.
However, the overall sentiment across Asia was low and investors remained cautious on the first day of the new quarter. The reason was the weak close on Wall Street and Footsie overnight coupled with a disappointing survey of Japanese business issued by the central Bank of Japan.
Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific, said: "[The Tankan] does nothing but highlight the deteriorating economic fundamentals in Japan. This report came in below even the most pessimistic report."
Indices in the rest of Asia traded as follows on 1 April at 6.09am GMT:
|Hong Kong||Hang Seng Index||20,786.18||Up||0.05%|
Going forward, investors seem to await US nonfarm payrolls data to get cues on the direction in which the stock markets are headed. Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG, said: "The main concern in the markets appears to be with the US The nonfarm payrolls tonight are important, although few expect the headline jobs numbers to disappoint."
Overnight (31 March), the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,685.09, down 0.18%, while the FTSE 100 closed 0.46% lower at 6,174.90.
Among commodities, oil prices seem to be on a decline. On 1 April, WTI crude oil was trading 1.33% lower at $37.83 (£26.35, €33.23) a barrel, while Brent was down 1.14% at $39.87 a barrel at 6.19am GMT. This follows Standard Chartered warning in January that oil prices could slide to $10 a barrel.