Asian markets lower after Wall Street decline

AP News
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Posted: Aug 30, 2012 11:56 PM
Asian markets lower after Wall Street decline

BEIJING (AP) — Asian markets fell Friday after Wall Street declined on pessimism about fuel prices and stagnant job growth while investors waited for a speech by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, hoping for possible signs of new U.S. stimulus.

The Asian heavyweight, Tokyo's Nikkei 225, shed 1.1 percent to 8,884.21 points. China's Shanghai Composite Index was off 0.2 percent at 2,047.90 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.4 percent to 19,481.9.

Traders were waiting for Bernanke's speech Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, hoping for signs of new stimulus plans. Hopes for further action took a blow this week when the Fed's "Beige Book" survey of economic sentiment was fairly positive.

Wall Street fell Thursday despite higher U.S. consumer spending. Investors were put off by concern about high fuel prices and stagnant employment.

"The moves were once again simply positioning ahead of Jackson Hole, with the market in the last few days really pairing back expectations of Ben Bernanke using the conference to give a clear view of easing," said Chris Weston of Australia's IG Markets in a report.

Elsewhere in Asia, Seoul's Kospi index shed 0.2 percent to 1,902.78 and Sydney's ASX S&P 200 lost 0.2 percent to 4,308.0. Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.2 percent to 7,387.25.

The U.S. government reported consumer spending rose in July from June, after a flat June and a decline in May. Separately, retailers such as Target Corp., Gap Inc. and Macy's Inc. reported higher-than-expected August sales.

But investors instead worried the gains were only temporary, driven by back-to-school shopping that will peter out.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 106.77 points to 13,000.71. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 11.01 to 1,399.48. The Nasdaq composite slid 32.48 to 3,048.71.

In Europe, a monthly survey of sentiment Thursday suggested the continent's growth is headed for a 2 percent contraction this year.

On Thursday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who usually avoids such pointed comments about other governments, expressed alarm about Europe's debt problems and called on Greece, Spain and Italy to embrace budget cuts and other reforms.

Inspectors from the so-called troika of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are due in Athens next month for a financial review on which hinges a rescue loan installment of €31 billion.

"It really seems clear to us that October will be an absolutely pivotal month for the eurozone," said Weston.

Benchmark oil for October delivery rose 4 cents to $94.66 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 87 cents to finish at $94.62 on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2517 from $1.2505 late Thursday in New York. The dollar fell to 78.46 yen from 78.63 yen.