Asian stocks vacillate on Wall Street cues, China

Associated Press

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Asian stock markets vacillated Thursday as investors waiting to see if weak Chinese economic data might prompt new economic stimulus also weighed a sell-off on Wall Street.

Japan's Nikkei was up 1 percent to 14,622.89 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent to 21,842.89. China's Shanghai Composite was down 0.8 percent to 2,142.68.

Australia's S&P/ASX lost 0.5 percent at 5,350.10. Markets in Southeast Asia were little changed.

India's Sensex reached another new high Thursday, up 0.5 percent to 22,205.46 amid optimism that elections beginning next month would usher in a new, business-friendly government after two years of anemic economic growth.

The varied Asian trading followed losses on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 98.89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,268.99. The S&P 500 fell 13.06 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,852.56. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite fell more than the other indexes, giving up 60.69 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,173.58.

Sentiment also appeared to be drifting as investors were unsure whether the recent trend of weak manufacturing in China represented bad news or good news because it might lead to new stimulus measures from Beijing.

"We expect the recent trend of weak Chinese data to continue, but it will likely have a limited impact on overall market sentiment," Credit Agricole's chief market strategist Herve Goulletquer said in a commentary.

Benchmark crude for May delivery was down 2 cents at $100.24 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.07 to close at $100.26 on Wednesday.

In currencies, the dollar strengthened to 102.11 Japanese yen from 101.98 late Wednesday. The euro inched down to $1.3772 from $1.3784.