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Asia stocks mostly down as China data weighs on confidence

August 4, 2015

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks mostly fell Tuesday as weak Chinese manufacturing weighed on sentiment and investors looked ahead to a U.S. jobs report later this week that could cement expectations for a Fed interest rate hike.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down 0.1 percent to 20,524.39 while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7 percent to 5,719.10. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent to 24,283.84. The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2 percent to 3,615.26. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines fell. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4 percent to 2,016.08.

CHINA WEAKNESS: Two recent surveys showed China’s giant manufacturing industry weakened in July, suggesting government efforts to stimulate the world’s No. 2 economy aren’t gaining broad traction. Weakening demand from China is also causing commodity prices to fall, hitting share prices of commodity-linked companies.

THE QUOTE: “Weakening growth in the global economy piled on the pressure for commodities. We saw a surprise downward adjustment to China’s gauge for smaller manufacturers’ activity, signaling further weakness in the Chinese economy,” said Bernard Aw, market strategist for IG in Singapore.

U.S. EMPLOYMENT: Monthly U.S. employment figures are due Friday and robust job creation should cement expectations for a U.S. interest rate hike in September or December. A FactSet survey of analysts forecasts the U.S. added 225,000 new jobs in July, better than June’s strong figure of 223,000. Ultra-low interest rates have fueled gains in stock prices for several years and a rate hike is likely to ruffle markets.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 5.80 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 2,098.04 on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 91.66 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,598.20. The Nasdaq composite slipped 12.90 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,115.38.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 30 cents to $45.47 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.95, or 4.1 percent, to close at $45.17 on Monday. U.S. crude has been sliding since reaching a high this year of $61.43 a barrel on June 10. Brent crude was trading at $49.85, up 33 cents.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 124.10 yen from 123.97 yen in the previous trading session. The euro dropped to $1.0944 from $1.0954.

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