SINGAPORE – Shares in major Asia-Pacific markets rose Monday as data showed that growth in Chinese manufacturing activity slowed in July.

Afterpay’s shares in Australia rose 18.77% on Monday after US fintech firm Square announced it would buy the purchase now and later pay the giant. The broader S&P / ASX 200 in Australia also posted robust gains as it climbed 1.34% to end the day at 7,491.40.

Elsewhere, mainland China stocks rose during the day, with the Shanghai composite rising 1.97% to 3,464.29 and the Shenzhen component rising 2.245% to 14,798.16.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed 1.06% higher at 26,235.80. Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng saw its Hong Kong-listed shares surge 10.66% after the company announced a record monthly high for vehicles shipped in July on Monday.

HSBC’s shares in Hong Kong rose 0.93% after the lender announced profits for the first half of 2021 that exceeded expectations and announced its second dividend payout since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Caixin / Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index for July, released on Monday, came in at 50.3, much lower than analysts expected in a Reuters poll of 51.1. Caixin’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index was 51.3 as of June.

China’s official purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing, released over the weekend, also showed that factory activity growth slowed in July, with the month reading 50.4 versus June’s 50.9.

PMI values ‚Äč‚Äčabove 50 indicate expansion, while those below this value indicate contraction. The PMI readings are sequential and represent a monthly expansion or contraction.

Elsewhere in Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.82% to close at 27,781.02 while the Topix index rose 2.05% to 1,940.05 that day. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.65% higher at 3,223.04.

MSCI’s broadest index for Asia Pacific stocks outside of Japan rose 1.16%.

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Investors also observed the Covid situation regionally. According to local news agency Kyodo News, more areas in Japan entered the Covid-19 state of emergency on Monday due to a surge in virus cases.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media reported that governments at various levels across the country have taken measures to contain the virus after a resurgence of infections that reportedly started in Nanjing city.

Oil drops 1%

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures falling 0.97% to $ 74.68 a barrel. US crude oil futures declined 1.03% to $ 73.19 a barrel.

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of its competitors, hit 92.003 after falling from a level above 92.4 recently.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.66 per dollar, stronger than levels above 110 versus last week’s greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $ 0.7358 after falling from levels above $ 0.738 late last week.