Thursday, July 10, 2014

Asia stocks subdued as Japan data, Syria weigh

August 30. 2013 1:36AM
Associated Press

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(AP) Asian stock markets were subdued Friday after Japanese manufacturing undershot expectations and worries about Syria's civil war dampened investor spirits.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo shed morning gains after the government released figures that, while showing some strength, fell short. Manufacturing in the world's No. 3 economy rose 1.6 percent in July from a year earlier and 3.2 percent from the month before. While that pointed to an economic recovery, analysts had expected to see a 3.6 percent increase.

Still, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it foresaw further expansion in August and September.

"If these forecasts are realised, industrial production momentum will climb to new highs," analysts at Capital Economics said in a written commentary.

The Nikkei in Tokyo fell 0.3 percent to 13,412.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.1 percent to 21,676.78. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 1,917.74. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4 percent to 5,115.

Among individual stocks, Virgin Australia Holdings, the country's second-largest airline, fell 3.2 percent after posting an annual loss of 98 million Australian dollars ($88 million).

Energy companies fell as oil prices continued to retreat from a two-year high. Japanese energy explorer Inpex shed 1.7 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks posted modest gains Thursday, as some positive news for the U.S. economy outweighed worries about Syria. The economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate from April through June, much faster than previously estimated. The government also reported the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits fell last week.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.1 percent to close at 14,840.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 advanced 0.2 percent to 1,638.17. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.8 percent to 3,620.30.

Lawmakers in the U.K. refrained from authorizing British participation in action against Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus killed more than 300 civilians earlier this month. The U.S. government is considering a response, although the White House says President Barack Obama hasn't decided on when and how big it might be.

That helped calm investor nerves, said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia.

"There's been a slight downgrade to Syria fears," Shamu said.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was down $1.15 to $107.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.30 to close at $108.80 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3241 from $1.3237 late Thursday. The dollar fell to 98.29 from 98.32 yen.


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Associated Press

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