Investing.com - Asian stock markets were higher during late Asian trade on Thursday, adding to sharp gains following the release of data showing manufacturing activity in China expanded for the first time in more than a year last month.
During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index ended up 1%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rallied 1.5%.
Midway through the session, data showed that China’s HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index, the earliest indicator of the country's industrial activity, rose to 50.4 in November from a final reading of 49.5 in October.
It was the first expansion in manufacturing activity since September 2011, easing concerns over the growth outlook for the world’s second largest economy.
In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index extended gains following the China PMI report, pulled higher by Hong Kong-listed firms linked to China’s economic health.
Property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties jumped 1%, Sino Land rose 1.9%, while mainland developer China Overseas Land & Investment added 2.75%.
Elsewhere, in Tokyo, the Nikkei rallied to the highest level since May 2, as the yen’s ongoing weakness continued to boost exporters.
The yen has been weighed by speculation the country’s main opposition leader, Shinzo Abe will win next month's general election. Abe recently said he wanted the Bank of Japan adopt interest rates of zero or below zero to enhance lending.
Shares in Toyota added 2.3%, Honda gained 3.5%, while Canon advanced 3.3%.
Meanwhile, shares in Australia were dragged higher by gains in miners, boosted by the upbeat China manufacturing data.
Mining heavyweights Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton tacked on 1% and 0.25% respectively, while rare earth miner Lynas surged 7.1%, amid expectations operations at its controversial plant in Malaysia will begin in the near term.
Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a higher open, hopes that a deal on an aid payment for Greece is close supported sentoment.
The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.35% at the open, France’s CAC 40 futures advanced 0.35%, London’s FTSE 100 futures rose 0.35%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a gain of 0.4%.
Later in the day, the euro zone was to release preliminary data on manufacturing and service sector activity, while Germany and France were also to release individual reports.
Trade volumes were expected to remain light on Thursday, with U.S. markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.