Asian stocks close mostly down, Nikkei falls ahead of key data

Asian stocks close mostly down, Nikkei falls ahead of key data
AFP
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First Published: Wed, Aug 13 2008. 12 17 AM IST
Hong Kong: Asian shares closed mostly down on Tuesday as investors took profits following gains in the previous session, with Japan sliding nearly 1% ahead of the release of key economic data.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index lost 127.31 points, or 0.95%, to 13,303.60 after official data showed wholesale inflation had hit a 27-year high of 7.1%. Investors were also waiting for Japanese growth data due on Wednesday, which is expected to show the country’s economy shrank in the second quarter.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Chinese stock market fell more than 0.5%, compounding sharp recent falls. The Shanghai index has plunged about 60% since its peak last October. Among other big markets, Hong Kong fell 1%, while Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore also ended in the red. But Australia bucked the trend to finish up 0.6%.
India fell nearly 2% after data showing a sharp slowdown in industrial production growth spooked investors. The region’s small markets finished down, although the Thai stock market was shut.
Investors remain worried about weakening Asian economic growth, as the region feels the chill from a US-led world slowdown.
Japanese consumer confidence, meanwhile, hit a new record low. “There are few positive cues,” said Akira Ishida, general manager at Chuo Securities, adding that profit-taking could continue if market conditions do not improve.
Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index dropped 218.45 points at 21,640.89. Turnover was $8.97 billion (Rs38,033 crore). “The Hang Seng Index is likely to consolidate in the short term as heavyweight China Mobile fell below HK$100 (Rs540), a key support level. It will trigger more automatic sell-down from derivatives,” said Peter Lai, director at DBS Vickers Securities.
However, Australian share prices closed up 0.6%. The benchmark S&P ASX 200 gained 27.5 points to close at 5,053.60, while the broader All Ordinaries added 21.10 points.
Chinese share prices closed down 0.52%. Its benchmark Shanghai Composite index, which covers both A and B shares, was down 12.88 points at 2,457.20 on a turnover of 31.1 billion yuan (Rs19,127 crore).
“The government is unlikely to announce any specific market-friendly policies during the Olympics, which would make it unattractive for buyers to enter at this point,” said Everbright Securities’ Shi Honglin.
The government announced mid-morning on Tuesday that China’s July consumer price index stood at 6.3%, easing from June’s 7.1%.
South Korean stocks closed down 0.25%. Its benchmark Kospi lost 3.97 points to close at 1,577.12. “The market seemed to lack confidence in economic conditions in emerging markets,” said Woori Investment and Securities analyst Lee Kyoung-Min.
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First Published: Wed, Aug 13 2008. 12 17 AM IST
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