Asia shares fall on lingering China growth worries

Asia shares fall on lingering China growth worries

Tokyo: Most Asian stock markets fell on Friday, dragged again by concerns that China might take steps to cool its economic growth.

The region’s resource-related companies, which depend heavily on Chinese demand, were hit hard as a result.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average lost 0.9% to 10,348.23. Trading houses, metals producers and miners declined. Major trading firm Mitsubishi Corp. tumbled 3.7%, and rival Mitsui & Co. lost 3%.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.4% to 23,911.59 and South Korea’s Kospi shed 1.1% to 2,084.25.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7% to 4,749.9. Mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. was down 1.8%.

The key index in Singapore also declined, while benchmarks in mainland China and Taiwan rose modestly.

Notable gainers included Japan’s NEC Corp., which jumped 2.5% in Tokyo. The buying was triggered by local media reports that the company is nearing a deal with China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. to form a PC joint venture.

NEC said in a statement no decisions had been made. It also declined to comment on whether the two companies are in talks.

Stock markets from Shanghai to London to New York fell Thursday after China reported that its economy grew by 9.8% in the fourth quarter and that inflation remained stubbornly high. The numbers triggered worries that the world’s second-largest economy _ and the main driver of global economic growth in recent years--would force itself to slow down to control prices.

Most commodity prices fell Thursday, with silver leading metals lower with a 4.6% decline.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.49 points, or less than 0.1%, to 11,822.8. The negative mood was tempered by slightly better news on the US jobs market. The Labor Department reported that the number of people filing claims for unemployment benefits for the first time fell to 404,000 last week.

The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 1.66, or 0.1%, to 1,280.26. The technology-focused Nasdaq composite index fell 21.07, or 0.8%, to 2,704.29.

In currencies, the dollar rose to ¥83.01 from ¥82.98 late Thursday. The euro held steady at $1.3472.

Benchmark crude for February delivery was unchanged at $89.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.