Asian stock markets mixed in holiday-thinned trading after US economic data disappoints

BANGKOK – Asian stock markets were mixed in holiday-thinned trading Friday as investors digested a slew of disappointing economic data and corporate results from the U.S.

Applications for unemployment benefits jumped to their highest level in six weeks, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday, while manufacturing slowed in the mid-Atlantic region.

The bright spot was applications for new construction, which reached a five-year peak, reinforcing “the patchy nature of the US economic recovery,” Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said in a commentary.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.1 per cent to 15,019.55. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 per cent to 5,186.90. Benchmark in mainland China and Indonesia rose while those in New Zealand and the Philippines fell. Markets in Hong Kong and South Korea were closed for public holidays.

Corporate earnings, which have been helping to power Wall Street to all-time highs, took a step back on Thursday after Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, reported a disappointing first-quarter profit and acknowledged a sales slump. Personal computer maker Dell posted dismal first quarter earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell to 15,233.22, a loss of 0.3 per cent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 0.5 per cent to 1,650.47. Both indexes closed at record highs the day before. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.2 per cent to 3,465.24.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 16 cents to $95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 86 cents to $95.16 per barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2862 from $1.2907 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 102.28 yen from 102.06 yen.


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