BANGKOK – World stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday after China’s manufacturing growth slowed in April, adding to worries about the health of the world’s second-largest economy.
A preliminary survey by HSBC Corp. said its monthly purchasing managers’ index fell to a worse-than-expected 50.5 from March’s 51.6 on a 100-point scale. That comes on top of data released last week that showed an unexpected slowdown in China’s first-quarter economic growth.
“It builds on that picture last week and fears of a moderating growth scenario in China,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “That set a negative tone.”
Wall Street appeared set for losses. Dow Jones industrial futures fell 0.3 per cent to 14,453 while S&P 500 futures shed 0.4 per cent to 1,549.90. European stocks were mixed. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.3 per cent to 6,298.92. Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 per cent to 7,446.25. France’s CAC-100 advanced 0.8 per cent to 3,683.85.
Investors this week will be turning their focus to corporate profits. About a third of the companies in the S&P 500 index will report earnings this week. Later Tuesday, Apple Inc., AT&T and DuPont Co. will be among companies reporting earnings.
Asian stocks closed lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 1.1 per cent to 21,806.61. Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 2.6 per cent to 2,184.54. The Shenzhen Composite Index plunged 2.7 per cent to 923.42.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index slipped as the yen gained ground against the dollar. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 0.3 per cent to close at 13,529.65. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also fell. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1 per cent to 5,016.20.
European stocks rose Monday in response to the weekend re-election of Giorgio Napolitano as president of recession-mired Italy. He can now dissolve Parliament and call new elections, something he could not do in the final months of his first term. The country has been hobbled by political gridlock after inconclusive elections in February.
However, Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets in London, suggested in a commentary that Napolitano’s selection by parliament reflected Italy’s political chaos and the inability of its lawmakers to agree on a candidate apart from the incumbent who was planning to retire.
“Despite the optimism the inescapable fact remains that it is a sad state of affairs when an 87 year old man has to stand for re-election in an attempt to try and move the country forward.”
Among individual stocks, Australia’s Woodside Petroleum shot up 9.7 per cent after the oil and gas company announced a special dividend and increased its dividend payout ratio after cutting a major LNG project.
Virgin Australia Holdings jumped 4.6 per cent after the airline received approval from Australia’s competition regulator for a takeover of budget rival Tiger Airways.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down $1.08 to $88.11 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract for May gained 75 cents to close at $88.76 on the Nymex on Monday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2979 from $1.3060 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 98.72 yen from 99.42 yen.
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