TOKYO – Asian stock markets were lackluster Tuesday after weak Chinese trade and Japanese growth figures showed headwinds for the global economy.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index sank 2.3 percent to 17,444.05 and China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 2.2 percent to 3,011.29. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.6 percent to 1,871.84. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 percent to 20,649.17 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.2 percent to 5,090.70. Share markets in Southeast Asia fell while Taiwan, New Zealand and India gained.
JAPAN CONTRACTION: Japan's economy contracted 1.2 percent in April-June, according to revised data showing that consumer spending was slightly better than estimated, but corporate investment was significantly weaker. The figure is better than the preliminary one reported last month. Economists expect a recovery in the second half though China's slowdown and turbulent financial markets will limit its strength.
CHINA TRADE: Customs data showed that China's exports last month shrank 5.5 percent in dollar terms compared with a year earlier while imports tumbled 13.8 percent. Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics predicted that trade growth would improve over the next few months because August's figures were hit by disruption from a massive explosion at the busy Tianjin port and government enforced factory shutdowns in the run-up to a huge military parade in Beijing last week. But the trade data along with other weak indicators adds further pressure on China's communist leaders as they try to keep the economy from slowing too fast.
ANALYST'S VIEW: "Chinese trade balance numbers will have only added to concerns about the state of the economy," said Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne, Australia. "Japanese GDP data was slightly better than expected, but has not managed to ease concerns about the state of the economy. Concerns about China and the rising yen appear to have dominated trading today and pushed the Nikkei down."
WALL STREET: Wall Street was closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday.
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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down $1.73 to $44.32 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 70 cents on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 21 cents to $47.84 in London.
CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.1220 from $1.1168 in the previous global trading session. The dollar fell to 118.98 yen from 119.39 yen.