Asian stocks mostly down on weak data, commodity prices

AP News
Posted: Aug 17, 2015 11:42 PM
Asian stocks mostly down on weak data, commodity prices

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Tuesday as disappointing data from the U.S. and further drops in prices of oil and other commodities led investors to remain cautious about betting on risky assets.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 dipped 0.2 percent to 20,574.18 and South Korea's Kospi declined 0.4 percent to 1,960.60. China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.9 percent to 3,960.71. But Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.3 percent to 23,881.61 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched up 0.1 percent to 5,373.30.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Global money managers are not really keen on taking risks at the moment," said Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG. Aw cited prospects of higher interest rates in the U.S. as among the factors that made investors cautious. "Other developments, such as the commodity slump and China slowdown, added to the nervousness."

COMMODITY MARKETS: Even though the Chinese yuan stayed stable for about a week since a sharp devaluation last week, fears about weak growth in China have pushed down the prices of oil, copper and other metals, hurting emerging markets that rely on natural resources. Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG, said the crude prices can decline further in the foreseeable future.

OIL: The benchmark U.S. crude fell 7 cents at $41.80 per barrel on electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract declined 63 cents to close at $41.87 on Monday after data showed growth contracted in Japan, the world's third-largest oil consumer. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 14 cents at $48.60.

WEAK US DATA: Manufacturing activity in New York state contracts at the fastest pace since the Great Recession in August, pulled down by sharp declines in new orders and shipments. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York that its Empire State manufacturing index plunged to minus 14.9, the lowest level since April 2009, from a positive reading of 3.9 in July.

WALL STREET: The U.S. stock market climbed on Monday. The S&P 500 ended the day up 10.90 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,102.44. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67.78 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,545.18. The Nasdaq composite climbed 43.46 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,091.70.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 124.43 yen from 124.45 yen while the euro rose to $1.108 from $1.107.