HONG KONG, July 7, 2010 (AFP)
Asian stock markets were generally down on Wednesday with investors taking a cautious view of the global economic outlook after negative figures from the United States.
Japan’s Nikkei headline index closed down 0.63 percent, or 58.39 points, at 9,279.65 after data from the Institute for Supply Management suggested the US service sector had suffered a sharper-than-expected slowdown in June.
The Topix index of all first-section shares sank 0.68 percent.
Investors were also put off by the yen’s continued strength, a handicap for exporters. Honda Motor tumbled 1.63 percent, Sony 1.69 percent and Canon 0.44 percent.
Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.50 percent, or 21.5 points, at 4,254.6 after strong gains the previous day.
“Turnover remains relatively low on the market as investors take stock,” said CMC Markets analyst Rob Mulcahy. “It’s just not the sort of environment investors feel at ease with.”
Hong Kong was down 1.05 percent, or 211.26 points, at 19,872.86 on light trade in the afternoon affected by profit-taking and wider economic worries, with mainland Blue Chips such as Citic Pacific, Sinopec and Foxconn taking a hit.
Shanghai was flat in afternoon trade as gains in cement stocks offset profit-taking in some banks, dealers said. The Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, was up 0.01 percent, or 0.24 points, at 2,409.67.
The muted performances in Hong Kong and Shanghai came despite indications that the massive initial public offering of China’s Agricultural Bank is likely to set a world record, raising 22.1 billion dollars if over-allotment options are exercised.
Some observers have suggested the stock may have a bumpy ride after floatation later this month.
Singapore’s Straits Times Index was up 0.14 percent at 2,872.01.
Earlier US markets managed to break a week-long losing streak, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 0.59 percent, or 57.14 points, to close at 9,743.62.
The tech-rich Nasdaq composite index rose 0.10 percent, or 2.09 points, to 2,093.88.
The US Institute for Supply Management Tuesday said its non-manufacturing index showed a steeper-than-expected fall in June, sparking fresh jitters over the world’s largest economy.
The index fell to 53.8 points from 55.4 in May. Most economists had expected the June figure to be at 55.0. Any figure over 50 percent signifies growth.
In Tokyo the dollar held firm against other currencies as investors adjusted positions after the greenback’s sharp overnight falls amid US economic concerns, traders said.
The euro bought 1.2601 dollars in Tokyo afternoon trade after surging to 1.2623 dollars in New York late Tuesday. Against the Japanese currency the euro fell to 110.20 yen from 110.50. The dollar was almost unchanged at 87.45 yen.
In Asian oil markets, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, gained 10 cents to 72.08 dollars a barrel and Brent North Sea crude, also for August, was 13 cents up at 71.58 dollars.
Gold opened at 1,195.00-1,196.00 US dollars an ounce in Hong Kong, down from Tuesday’s close of 1,208.00-1,209.00 dollars.
In other markets:
— Manila closed up 0.43 percent, or 14.37 points, at 3,350.08 in line with European and US markets.
Top-traded Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. rose 0.62 percent to 2,420 pesos while Aboitiz Power Corp. was up 2.74 percent at 18.75 points. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. was unchanged at 60.50 pesos.
— Taipei’s weighted index fell 0.19 percent, or 14.02 points, to 7,534.46 in the afternoon.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.67 percent lower at 59.5 while MediaTek, the island’s leading integrated circuit design house, lost 1.1 percent to hit 448.0.
— Seoul closed down 0.55 percent, or 9.29 points, at 1,675.65 on selling by foreign investors.
— Wellington posted modest gains but volumes were low, with the benchmark NZX-50 index gaining 0.32 percent, or 9.336 points, to reach 2961.737.