Asia markets sink following Wall Street sell-off as uncertain global data turns off investors

HONG KONG – Asian stocks sank Friday as markets took a cue from Wall Street, which had a big sell-off after a batch of mixed reports on the global economy.

The economic picture from the U.S. was underwhelming. One report showed factory output fell, while another suggested hiring would continue. In Europe, the signs were more disappointing, with a report that first quarter economic output in the 18 country eurozone rose a less-than-expected 0.2 per cent.

It was enough to give the Dow Jones industrial average its worst day in five weeks and push the dollar lower.

Given that the U.S. benchmarks “have defied all recent headwinds to hit record highs this week, one may ask if the recent pull back is the start of a deeper correction,” said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

Japan’s led the decline in regional benchmarks, with Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 stock shedding 1.7 per cent to 14,055.79 as the yen strengthened. A stronger yen makes exports from Japan’s manufacturers pricier for overseas buyers.

South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.6 per cent to 1,998.17 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.7 per cent to 22,583.28. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3 per cent to 2,019.16. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 retreated 0.5 per cent to 5,484.60. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also fell.

On Wall Street, the Dow lost 1 per cent to 16,446.81 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.9 per cent to 1,870.85. The Nasdaq lost 0.8 per cent to 4,069.29.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 101.48 Japanese yen from 101.54 in late trading Thursday. The euro edged up to $1.3721 from $1.3717.

Oil prices rose, with benchmark crude for June delivery up 50 cents to $102.00 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 87 cents to close at $101.50 on Thursday.