Asian stock markets vacillate on Wall Street cues, weak China data

MUMBAI, India – Asian stock markets vacillated Thursday as investors waiting to see if weak Chinese economic data might prompt new economic stimulus also weighed a sell-off on Wall Street.

Japan’s Nikkei was up 1 per cent to 14,622.89 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.2 per cent to 21,842.89. China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.8 per cent to 2,142.68.

Australia’s S&P/ASX lost 0.5 per cent at 5,350.10. Markets in Southeast Asia were little changed.

India’s Sensex reached another new high Thursday, up 0.5 per cent to 22,205.46 amid optimism that elections beginning next month would usher in a new, business-friendly government after two years of anemic economic growth.

The varied Asian trading followed losses on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 98.89 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 16,268.99. The S&P 500 fell 13.06 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 1,852.56. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite fell more than the other indexes, giving up 60.69 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 4,173.58.

Sentiment also appeared to be drifting as investors were unsure whether the recent trend of weak manufacturing in China represented bad news or good news because it might lead to new stimulus measures from Beijing.

“We expect the recent trend of weak Chinese data to continue, but it will likely have a limited impact on overall market sentiment,” Credit Agricole’s chief market strategist Herve Goulletquer said in a commentary.

Benchmark crude for May delivery was down 2 cents at $100.24 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.07 to close at $100.26 on Wednesday.

In currencies, the dollar strengthened to 102.11 Japanese yen from 101.98 late Wednesday. The euro inched down to $1.3772 from $1.3784.