Shares in Asia Pacific were subdued in Thursday morning trade as the latest data showed China’s economy continued to recover. Investors will monitor oil prices after oil rigs and refineries were shut ahead of a massive hurricane approaching Texas and Louisiana. 

Stocks in mainland China were little changed in early trade. The Shanghai composite was down 0.22%, while the Shenzhen composite inched up 0.12%. The Shenzhen component was almost flat.

Data on Thursday showed that profits in China’s industrial sector grew 19.6% from last year, an increase from the 11.5% gain in June, as the country’s recovery from the pandemic continues.

Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 0.76% in early trade.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.44% while the Topix index dipped 0.50%.

South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.69%. The country’s central bank kept its rates on hold on Thursday, but cut its 2020 GDP forecast, as it weighed concerns over rising house prices and the worsening coronavirus fallout.

Meanwhile, stocks in Australia rose, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.63%. Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was flat in the morning.

Meanwhile, investors will monitor oil prices as a massive hurricane nears Texas and Louisiana. Oil rigs and refineries were shuttered as the storm approached. Oil producers on Tuesday shut 1.56 million barrels per day of crude output, or 84% of the Gulf of Mexico’s production, evacuating 310 offshore facilities, according to Reuters.

Prices, however, were little changed in the morning of Asian trading hours. U.S. crude futures dipped marginally to $43.35 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude futures traded up 0.11% to $45.69 per barrel.

Stateside, investors will await the upcoming Thursday speech stateside from the Fed’s Powell, where he is expected to introduce a new pandemic-era tool to combat the economic impact of Covid-19 and foster inflation in the U.S.

On the coronavirus front, biotech firm Moderna announced Wednesday that its potential coronavirus vaccine generated a promising immune response in elderly patients during an early stage clinical trial.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose to fresh record highs overnight. The broader market index gained 1% to end its trading day stateside at 3,478.73 while the Nasdaq popped 1.7% to close at 11,665.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 83.48 points, or 0.3% to finish its trading day at 28,331.92.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 92.908 in a trading week that has seen it above 93.2 at times.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.04 per dollar after strengthening yesterday from levels around 106.5 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7233 after rising yesterday from levels around $0.72.

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