TOKYO – Asian stock markets were mostly lower Monday as weak data from the U.S. and China clouded the outlook for the global economy.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.4 percent to 19,817.12 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.6 percent to 27,648.92. South Korea's Kospi edged 0.1 percent lower to 2,104.10. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.2 percent to 4,298.27 and Australia's S&P ASX/200 lost 0.6 percent to 5,700.60. New Zealand was higher while markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.
CAUTION APLENTY: A slew of disappointing data from the U.S. and signs of weakness in China, along with uncertainties over the Greek debt situation, have left investors cautious, analysts say. Volatility in the bond market is another factor adding to perceived risks, though the lackluster growth in the U.S. has reinforced expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will bide its time in raising interest rates.
THE QUOTE: "Weaker than expected U.S. industrial production during April lends weight to the view that the first Fed rate hike now seems at least several months away," said Stephen Innes, a senior trader for OANDA Asia Pacific. "The market will probably focus on USD data, as evidence continues to suggest that seasonality may not be the only excuse for the recent run of poor economic data."
JAPAN DATA: Japan's report of stronger than forecast machinery orders in March boosted confidence that the recovery may be gaining ground, though most analysts expect the central bank to keep its ultra-loose policy unchanged during this week's policy meeting. Machinery orders, seen as a key indicator of capital investment, rose 2.9 percent from the month before in March, for a 6 percent quarter-on-quarter rise in January-March. The better-than-forecast data was mostly due to rising orders from non-manufacturing companies. It could contribute to a quarterly rise in private, non-residential investment, due to be reported Wednesday along with GDP data that are expected to show a modest improvement in the recovery.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil was up 8 cents to $59.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 19 cents to $59.69 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, gained 9 cents to $66.90 a barrel.
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CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.1430 from $1.1390 on Friday. The dollar climbed to 119.67 yen from 119.38 yen on Friday.
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