Asian markets mostly down, oil prices sink further


HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly fell on Monday after China released data pointing to further weakness in its manufacturing sector, but Tokyo hit a seven-year high as the yen slipped against the dollar.

Energy firms took a hit for a second successive session while airlines climbed after OPEC’s decision to maintain oil output levels despite a supply glut and plunging prices.

Tokyo rallied 0.75 percent to its best finish since July 2007 thanks to fresh yen weakness which helps its exporters. The Nikkei added 130.25 points to 17,590.10.

But Sydney sank 1.98 percent, or 105.3 points, to close at 5,207.7 and Seoul fell 0.79 percent, or 15.56 points, to 1,965.22.

Shanghai finished down 0.10 percent, or 2.68 points, at 2,680.16 while Hong Kong ended 2.58 percent lower, giving up 620.00 points to 23,367.45.

China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index of manufacturing eased to 50.3 last month, lower than the 50.8 seen in October and the weakest since March. A figure above 50 signals expansion in the sector, while anything below indicates contraction.

The figure is the latest pointing to a slowdown in the world’s number two economy and follows a surprise move by the central People’s Bank of China on November 21 to cut interest rates.

Adding to worries about the economy, the independent China Index Academy said Sunday that house prices in the country’s 100 major cities fell on a monthly basis for the seventh straight month in November.



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