TOKYO – Asian stocks fell Thursday after another slump in oil prices dragged Wall Street lower and China's manufacturing output grew at the slowest pace in five months.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 0.6 percent at 15,108.83 in afternoon trading, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent 23,290.44. Seoul's Kospi shed 0.4 percent to 1,929.70 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped less than 0.1 percent to 5,383.20. China's Shanghai Composite was down 1.2 percent at 2,298.20.
CHINA ECONOMY: A preliminary reading of China's massive manufacturing industry for October provided mixed messages. HSBC's factory purchasing managers index rose to 50.4 in October from 50.2 the previous month (figures above 50 indicate expansion) but the output sub-index slipped to a five month low. "While the manufacturing sector likely stabilized in October, the economy continues to show signs of insufficient effective demand," HSBC said.
THE QUOTE: "Investors seemed to have lost their mojo," said Betty Lam, sales trader at CMC Markets in Sydney. "Volumes remain unseasonably skinny and China data failed to inspire traders to step off the sidelines."
ENERGY: Oil prices extended losses after the U.S Energy Department reported an increase in oil inventories that was far larger than expected. Benchmark U.S. crude was down 8 cents at $80.44 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after falling $1.97 on Wednesday. The slide in energy prices in the past two weeks has raised doubts about the strength of the global economy but also offers some upside in Asia where many countries are reliant on imported fuel.
BIG EARNNGS: Later in the global day, major U.S. companies such as Microsoft, 3M, Amazon.com, Caterpillar and United Continental will be releasing earnings reports. Asian companies, including major Japanese names such as Toyota Motor Corp., are releasing their reports later in the month.
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WALL STREET: The S&P 500 dropped 14.17 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,927.11 on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 153.49 points, or 0.9 percent, to 16,461.32. The Nasdaq composite fell 36.63 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,382.85.
CURRENCIES: The euro dropped to $1.2637 from $1.2646 late Wednesday. The dollar rose to 107.25 yen from 107.16 yen.