Asian Stock MarketsAsian Markets Edge Lower, Investors React to Chinese Economic Data

A trader sits and watches the screen at the Shanghai Stock Exchange [Image: Bloomberg]

Shares in Asia-Pacific were largely lower on Wednesday, as investors reacted to the release of Chinese economic data.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 1.84% to close at 25,033.21 — falling more than 1% for the third straight session.

asia markets
Hang Seng Index Performance

Casino stocks listed in the city plunged amid fears over tighter regulations as Macao kicked off a public gaming consultation. Shares of Wynn Macau plummeted 29%, while Sands China plunged more than 32%. Galaxy Entertainment Group dropped around 20%.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed lower, with the Shanghai composite dipping 0.17% to 3,656.22 while the Shenzhen component shed 0.614% to 14,536.31.

Data released Wednesday showed China’s retail sales growing at a much slower pace than expected in August. The retail sales print for the month grew 2.5%, against a 7% growth forecast by analysts polled by Reuters.

Industrial production growth also came in below expectations, rising 5.3% in August against predictions of 5.8% growth.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan declined 0.52% on the day to 30,511.71 while the Topix index slipped 1.06% to 2,096.39. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.15% higher to close at 3,153.40.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.27% to close at 7,417. While MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.69%.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 292.06 points to 34,577.57 while the S&P 500 declined 0.57% to 4,443.05. The Nasdaq Composite shed 0.45% to 15,037.76. The losses stateside came despite an inflation reading for August that was weaker than expected.

Asian Markets Currencies and Oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.591 following its recent decline from levels above 92.7.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.52 per dollar, having strengthened yesterday from around 110.1 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7323, still struggling to recover after last week’s decline from above $0.74.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.96% to $74.31 per barrel. U.S. crude futures advanced 0.98% to $71.15 per barrel

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