BEIJING – Asian stocks fell further Friday after a survey showed Chinese manufacturing weakened this month.
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KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index fell 3.5 percent to 3,534.16 points and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 2.8 percent to 19,465.92. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 2.4 percent to 22,212.60 and Seoul's Kospi retreated 1.9 percent to 1,878.25. Sydney's S&P ASX 200 lost 1.7 percent to 5,198.20 and India's Sensex declined 1.3 percent to 27,237.62. Singapore, Taiwan, Bangkok and Jakarta also declined. On Thursday, U.S. stocks suffered their worst day in 18 months, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 both off 2.1 percent and the Nasdaq composite down 2.8 percent.
CHINA JITTERS: The preliminary version of the Caixin purchasing managers' index, formerly sponsored by HSBC Corp., fell to an unexpectedly low 47.1 points from July's 47.8 points on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 show a contraction. That added to concern about the outlook for China's cooling economy that has caused the Shanghai index to tumble this week despite a massive government intervention. Abroad, last week's surprise devaluation of China's yuan has sent shockwaves through other emerging countries that might face tougher competition from lower-priced Chinese exports. China's market benchmark fell 6.1 percent on Tuesday and closed up Wednesday only after what analysts suggested might have been heavy buying by a state company charged with shorting up prices.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "The past week has seen a further intensification of concerns regarding the emerging world with a range of general and country specific factors coming together," said Shane Oliver, chief economist for AMP Capital, in a report. Oliver said concerns have been fueled by devaluations by China and Vietnam, falling commodity prices, the Bangkok bombing and China's deadly explosion in Tianjin. "Fears of a re-run of the 1997-98 Asian-emerging market crisis are building again."
WALL STREET: Selling on Thursday outweighed buying by a ratio of more than eight to one in heavy trading. Strategists and traders, noting the lack of major U.S. economic news, said the drop in stocks was also likely tied to computerized selling after the S&P 500 moved below one of its most closely watched indicators, a 200-day moving average. While many investors buy and sell stocks based on a company's business outlook, there is a different class of traders who rely on such technical indicators to make investment decisions.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 55 cents per barrel to $40.76 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 5 cents on Thursday to close at $41.32. Brent crude, used to price international oils, tumbled 60 cents to $46.02 in London after losing 54 cents the previous day to close at $46.62.
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CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 123.0790 yen from Thursday's 123.4500 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1278 from the previous day's $1.1236.