SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets extended losses Wednesday following a drop on Wall Street as investors digested weak Chinese trade data and China's low inflation rate.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 slid 1.9 percent to 17,896.33 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.5 percent to 2,009.61. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.6 percent to 22,470.84 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China was nearly flat, adding less than 0.1 percent to 3,295.20 after trading lower. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent to 5,190.60. But stocks in Singapore were higher after preliminary data showed the country narrowly avoided a recession in the third quarter.
CHINA DATA: Data showed Chinese inflation eased in September, stoking expectations that Beijing would have more leeway for interest rate cuts or other stimulus to prop up slowing economic growth. Consumer prices rose 1.6 percent over a year earlier, driven by a 2.7 percent rise in food costs. Meanwhile, China's weak trade data released Tuesday weighed on sentiment for a second day. China's weak imports for September sparked concerns about demand, dampening prices of commodities. It also drove down currencies of commodity-reliant countries such as Australia.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "Disappointing Chinese data drove another sell-off in Asia today," said Angus Nicholson at IG in Singapore. "Today's Chinese CPI essentially guaranteed further cuts to the interest rate and the reserve requirement ratio before the year is out." He said further rate cuts this year look "inevitable" and lower rates will put renewed pressure on China to devalue its currency that has gained against the U.S. dollar, which would help its exports.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished lower on Tuesday for the first day in five. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.7 percent to 2,003.69. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 0.3 percent to 17,081.89. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.9 percent to 4,796.61.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 11 cents to $46.77 per barrel in electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed 44 cents lower at $46.66 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 3 cents to $49.66 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 119.67 yen from 119.76 yen in the previous trading session. The euro rose to $1.1388 from $1.1386.