SEOUL, South Korea - Asian stocks were lower on Thursday as weak China export data disappointed investors and renewed concerns about the health of the world’s second-largest economy.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 dipped 0.4 percent to 16,774.26 while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.7 percent to 2,019.43. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index retreated 1.5 percent to 23,064.15 and China’s Shanghai Composite Index inched down 0.1 percent to 3,055.01. Stocks in Australia, Taiwan and Southeast Asia were lower. Thai stocks fell 1.1 percent amid reports that its long-time king is gravely ill.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “China’s exports weakened last month on the back of subdued external demand. At the same time, import growth returned to negative territory, raising questions over the strength of the recent recovery in domestic demand,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics. “This could be an early sign that the recent recovery in economic activity is losing momentum.”
WEAK CHINA TRADE: Data showed that China’s exports last month fell 10 percent over a year earlier in the U.S. dollar terms, compared with a 2.8 percent fall in August. The drop was wider than expected. Analysts forecast a fall of 3.3 percent. Imports also dropped 1.9 percent last month, after a 1.5 percent gain in August, due to lower shipments of key commodities such as iron ore and copper.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished slightly higher on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 15.54 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,144.20. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 2.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,139.18. The Nasdaq composite slipped 7.77 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,239.02.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil slid 45 cents to $49.73 per barrel in New York. The contract closed 61 cents lower at $50.18 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 39 cents to $51.42 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 103.67 yen from 104.29 yen. The euro rose to $1.1036 from $1.1014.