Asia stocks dulled by weak economic reports

AP News
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Posted: Nov 20, 2014 10:46 PM
Asia stocks dulled by weak economic reports

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were lackluster Friday as positive economic news from the U.S. was tempered by weakness in Europe, China and Japan.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.8 percent to 17,154.61 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.2 percent to 23,389.12. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.2 percent at 5,305.80. Seoul's Kospi added 0.3 percent to 1,964.27. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly lower.

US DATA: The solid performance of the world's largest economy was the only consolation for investors. Sales of previously occupied homes increased in October on an annual basis for the first time this year while the Labor Department said unemployment figures fell slightly last week. U.S. retailers reported brisk earnings.

WEAK WORLD: In contrast to the strengthening U.S. economy, a report on business activity in Europe stoked fears that the 18-country eurozone could follow Japan by sliding into recession. A survey by financial information company Markit showed Europe's purchasing managers' index fell to a 16-month low. Europe was not alone with economic troubles. Preliminary results of a Chinese factory survey released Thursday showed manufacturing activity in the world's second-biggest economy fell to a six-month low in November.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks rebounded Thursday with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index setting record highs. The S&P 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 2,052.75. The Dow gained 0.2 percent to 17,719. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 0.6 percent to 4,701.87.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 47 cents to $76.32 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added $1.35 to settle at $75.85 on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 29 cents to $79.62 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 117.74 yen from 118.07 yen late Thursday. The euro edged up to $1.2554 from $1.2547.