TOKYO – Asian stock markets drifted lower Tuesday after China reported its weakest economic growth in five years while Japan's benchmark dropped as investors cashed in gains from a 4 percent surge the previous day.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.7 percent at 14,862.49 following Monday's rally, which was fueled by expectations of government pension fund buying of shares. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent to 23,012.31 and China's Shanghai Composite slipped 0.3 percent to 2,350.43. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1 percent to 5,325, while Seoul's Kospi dropped 0.9 percent to 1,913.43.
CHINA GROWTH: The world's second biggest economy expanded 7.3 percent from a year earlier in the third quarter, slowing from 7.5 percent in the previous quarter. Markets found some solace in the fact growth was slightly better than the 7.2 percent rate many analysts had forecast, but the modest deceleration is unlikely to convince China's leaders to embark on a massive stimulus effort on top of targeted measures earlier in the year.
THE QUOTE: "The upshot is that although (China's) growth has slowed, it reflects a welcome rebalancing away from excess investment in certain sectors of the economy and is not cause for significant concern," said economist Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics. "With policymakers now prioritizing employment and economic rebalancing over growth, we don't think they will feel the need to act aggressively to shore up the economy in response to today's data."
WALL STREET: Shares closed higher in quiet trading by investors rattled by last week's white-knuckle turbulence. The Dow rose 19.26 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,399.67 and the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 17.25 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,904.01. The Nasdaq composite gained 57.64 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,316.07.
ENERGY: The recent plunge in oil prices is sharpening concerns over the global economy but energy trading was relatively subdued Tuesday. Benchmark U.S. crude fell was up 24 cents to $82.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.2824 from $1.2795 late Monday. The dollar dropped to 106.31 yen from 106.95 yen.