• Asia stocks mostly down as China manufacturing slows


    HONG KONG: Asian markets fell on Monday as China shares were dragged down by poor manufacturing figures and investors followed a drop on Wall Street.

    A private survey of Chinese manufacturing activity showed a decline to a two-year low in July, suggesting the world’s second largest economy faces challenges in the third quarter.
    Shanghai fell 1.72 percent in afternoon trade, while Hong Kong dropped 1.02 percent.

    Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 37.13 points to finish at 20,548.11, while South Korea’s benchmark KOSPI fell 21.67 points to close at 2,008.49.

    Sydney eased 19.9 points, or 0.35 percent, to 5,679.3 ahead of the central bank’s monthly monetary policy meeting Tuesday.

    Investor sentiment in China reflected the final reading of Caixin’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which came in at 47.8 for July.

    The figure was below the 49.4 registered in June and was the weakest reading since 47.7 in July 2013, according to previous data, with a figure above 50 signaling growth and anything below indicating contraction.

    An official purchasing managers’ index released at the weekend had already showing a decrease for the month, decelerating to 50.0 from 50.2 in June.|

    Technology and energy companies slumped in Shanghai, while analysts predicted China’s government would further ease credit in the second half of 2015 in an attempt to shore up growth.

    “Fiscal policies will be the key to growth stabilization measures in the second half,” Zhu Qibing, a Beijing-based macroeconomic analyst at China Minzu Securities Co., told Bloomberg News.

    “The government’s recent signals and policy direction clearly show that a new round of fiscal stimulus is coming,” he said.

    HSBC meanwhile announced Monday in Hong Kong that net profit fell 3.8 percent in the three months to June, as the company agreed to sell its Brazilian business for $5.2 billion to Brazil’s Banco Bradesco.

    But the company emphasized a rise in pre-tax profits, which went up 10 percent over the six months, pushing shares up 1.40 percent compared with Friday in afternoon trade.

    Oil prices down on fears of glut
    Investors in Japan were meanwhile weighing earnings while energy-related shares were pushed lower as oil extended its biggest monthly drop in seven years.

    Automaker Honda’s shares bucked the trend with an 8.77 percent jump to 4,328 yen after it reported surging profits.

    Asian markets had a negative lead from Wall Street where stocks closed lower Friday following poor earnings from ExxonMobil and Chevron.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.31 percent, while the broad-based S&P 500 dropped 0.22 percent. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index edged down 0.01 percent.

    Oil prices were lower in Asian trade over concerns about a supply glut. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September fell 39 cents to $46.74 while Brent crude for September eased 49 cents to $51.72.

    Prices were facing downward pressure following “signs that top producers in the Middle East were continuing to pump at record levels despite a growing global glut”, said Singapore’s United Overseas Bank in a market commentary.

    In Tokyo forex markets, the dollar rose against the euro and yen after falling in US trade owing to a weak report on workers’ pay that reignited questions about the timeline for an interest rate hike.

    In afternoon trade, the greenback fetched 124.05 yen, edging up from 123.91 yen in New York late Friday.

    The euro bought $1.0976 and 136.15 yen against $1.0984 and 136.10 yen in US trade.
    Gold fetched $1,095.82 an ounce compared with $1,098.40 on Friday.



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