Asia stocks mostly down on US stimulus jitters


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Asian stock markets made a lackluster start to the week after unexpectedly strong U.S. economic growth and hiring reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve will start cutting back stimulus soon. Stocks in Manila sank after a typhoon devastated the eastern Philippines, killing thousands of people.

Investors were also waiting to see if China's communist leaders, who started a four-day meeting in Beijing on Saturday, would announce reform plans to bolster the world's No. 2 economy as it comes under pressure from industrial overcapacity, high debt and surging house prices.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.1 percent Monday to 22,773.73 while China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.2 percent to 2,102.79. Seoul's Kospi dropped 0.3 percent to 1,979.55 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.5 percent to 5,376.30. Japan's Nikkei 225 bucked the trend, rising 1 percent to 14,256.80.

The PSE Composite in Manila sank 1.8 percent to 6,239.96 as the country grappled with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Authorities estimated that up to 10,000 people may have died. But the government, stunned by the scale of the disaster, has not given an official death toll yet.

In the U.S., government figures on Friday showed the country generated 204,000 jobs in October, way ahead of market expectations for a more modest increase of 125,000. And the world's biggest economy grew 2.8 percent in the third quarter, nearly a percentage point higher than expected.

The data made it more likely the Fed will soon being reducing its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases that have kept interest rates low to spur economic recovery but also sent a wall of money into stock markets.

"The U.S. economy remains resilient" so reduction of the Fed's monetary stimulus remains on the table, Mizuho Bank in Singapore said in a market commentary.

But DBS Vickers in Hong Kong said odds that the Fed will cut its stimulus as early as December or January still seem to be under 50 percent. It said economic fundamentals still seemed weak, with consumption and business investment growth slowing.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 167.80 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at a record high of 15,761.78 on Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended 23.46 higher, or 1.3 percent, at 1,770.61.

In energy trading, benchmark crude for December delivery was up 8 cents to $94.68 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 40 cents to close at $94.60 a barrel on Friday.

The euro rose to $1.3360 from $1.3352 late Friday. The dollar dropped to 98.99 yen from 99.21 yen.