Asian markets open mixed as Hong Kong protests, weak Chinese data dampen US rally

Markets Associated Press

Asian stock markets were mixed Monday as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and concern about China's economy offset good U.S. economic news.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index was up 0.4 percent to 16,290.73 points while China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.4 percent to 2,357.42. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.9 percent to 23,218.64 amid concerns over rising protests, and the rest of the region was mostly in the red. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,389.90 while stocks in Korea, Taiwan and Singapore also edged down.

HONG KONG TENSIONS: Pro-democracy protests escalated Monday, raising concerns business in this Asian financial hub might be disrupted. In a rare scene of disorder, thousands of people took to the streets over the weekend in a challenge against Beijing's decision to limit political reforms. Police fired tear gas and detained 78 protesters but failed to break up the rally.

WEAK CHINESE DATA: China reported a 0.6 percent fall in industrial company profits in August, indicating economic growth might be declining further. Despite improved September manufacturing data, analysts said declining industrial production, lower property prices, weaker imports and pressure on factory prices are pointing to softening economic conditions.

ANALYST TAKE: "Concerns over the Chinese economy and protests in Hong Kong are likely to keep investors relatively cautious despite Friday's rebound in U.S. stocks," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Australia, in a commentary.

WALL STREET: Stocks rebounded on good economic and corporate news. On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rising 1 percent to 17,113.15. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 surged 0.9 percent to 1,982.85 but ended the week down 1.4 percent. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1 percent to 4,512.19.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 60 cents at $92.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the contract rose $1.01 to $93.54, buoyed by rising demand in the U.S.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 109.4130 yen from Friday's 109.2950. The euro edged down to $1.2676 from the previous session's $1.2684.