Facebook Inc's fast-growing mobile advertising business helped drive a 61 percent increase in revenue during the second quarter, beating Wall Street's financial targets and sending shares to a record-high in after-hours trading on Wednesday. Facebook now counts 1.5 million advertising customers and the company's ad business saw strong growth across all of its geographic regions, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. Investors bid up shares of Facebook roughly 5 percent to $75.13 in after-hours trading on Wednesday, giving the Internet company a roughly $190 billion valuation, putting it on par with IBM Corp. "It might be more expensive from a market cap perspective, but I don’t think anyone was expecting this level of profitability," JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey said.
China's factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in 18 months in July as new orders surged, a preliminary HSBC survey showed on Thursday, the latest indication that the economy is picking up as government stimulus measures kick in. The HSBC/Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 52.0 in July from June's final reading of 50.7, beating a forecast of 51.0 in a Reuters poll. "Economic activity continues to improve in July, suggesting that the cumulative impact of mini-stimulus measures introduced earlier is still filtering through," said Qu Hongbin, chief economist for China at HSBC. Mainland China stocks jumped after the PMI report while shares in the rest of Asia edged higher.
Asian stock markets edged broadly higher on Thursday and the Australian dollar jumped after a surprisingly strong reading on Chinese manufacturing bolstered hopes for recovery in the world's second-biggest economy. Japan's Nikkei added 0.2 percent while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.3 percent. "Emerging markets continue to be main benefactor from the mix of low volatility, improving global growth and supportive central banks," said analysts at Barclays in a note.