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MENAFN - Arab News - 22/08/2014
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(MENAFN - Arab News) HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly fell with downbeat Chinese manufacturing data dragging down Hong Kong and Shanghai as concerns grew about the pace of recovery in the world's second-largest economy.

But Tokyo bucked the trend gaining 0.85 percent or 131.75 points to 15586.20 after US Federal Reserve minutes suggested interest rates may be hiked sooner than expected.

Seoul dropped 1.38 percent or 28.57 points to 2044.21 Hong Kong lost 0.66 percent or 165.66 points to 24994.1 Shanghai slid 0.44 percent or 9.75 points to 2230.46 while Sydney ended flat edging up 4.3 points to 5638.9.

Traders were focused on China as the HSBC preliminary purchasing managers index (PMI) which tracks activity in the country's factories and workshops slipped to 50.3 in August.

The figure was down from a final reading of 51.7 in July and was the lowest for three months the British banking giant said in a statement.

The indicator is a closely watched gauge of the health of the Asian economic powerhouse with a reading above 50 indicating the sector is expanding.

'Today's data suggest that the economic recovery is still continuing but its momentum has slowed again' HSBC economist Qu Hongbin said in the statement.

The downward trend in Asian markets came despite a positive lead from Wall Street where the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.35 percent at 16979.13 on Wednesday.

Minutes from the July 29-30 Fed meeting showed policy makers increasingly at odds over how strong the US labor market is and what that means for inflation a key issue in planning rate hikes next year.

The intensifying debate signalled an increased albeit still measured level of hawkish sentiment in the Fed that could speed up any rate hike.

Easing fears about the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine has fueled investor optimism ahead of a speech by the head of the US Federal Reserve.

Slow growth low interest rates and tepid inflation on both sides of the Atlantic will be in focus when heads of the US and European central banks meet in Jackson Hole Wyoming.

All eyes will focus on Janet Yellen the Federal Reserve chair and Mario Draghi her counterpart at the European Central Bank with observers looking and listening for signs of what they plan for interest rates.

Yellen is facing calls to begin raising interest rates soon after US measures aimed at stimulating the world's biggest economy are wound up in October.

In forex markets the dollar was at 103.86 yen in afternoon Asian trade up from 103.76 yen in New York late Wednesday.

The euro fetched 1.3244 and 137.55 yen against 1.3258 and 137.57 yen in US trade.

In oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery was down 27 cents at 93.18 while Brent for October eased 26 cents to 102.02 in afternoon trade.

Gold traded at 1282.27 an ounce at 1045 GMT compared to 1294.76 an ounce late Wednesday.

In other markets:

Mumbai eased 0.17 percent or 45.82 points to end at 26360.11 points.

Bhushan Steel fell 4.97 percent to 130.85 rupees while Amara Raja Batteries fell 4.38 percent to 571.00 rupees.

Bangkok rose 0.04 percent or 0.64 points to 1551.41.

Telecoms company True Corp. lost 4.55 percent to 10.50 baht while power giant Electricity Generating Public Co. gained 4.75 percent to 165.50 baht.

Jakarta ended up 0.31 percent or 15.97 points at 5206.14.

Lender Bank Negara Indonesia gained 1.89 percent to 5400 rupiah while palm oil firm Astra Agro Lestari slipped 0.66 percent to 26175 rupiah.

Kuala Lumpur lost 0.22 percent or 4.08 points to close at 1874.81.

Malayan Banking fell 0.2 percent to 10.06 ringgit while plantation giant Sime Darby shed 0.2 percent to 9.48. SapuraKencana Petroleum added 1.5 percent to 4.19 ringgit.

Singapore rose 0.01 percent or 0.44 points to 3324.09.

United Overseas Bank was down 0.04 percent to Sg22.86 while Singapore Airlines declined 0.40 percent to Sg10.00.

Wellington rose 0.24 percent or 12.58 points to 5152.92.

Air New Zealand was up 0.71 percent at NZ2.13 and Spark lifting 0.34 percent to NZ2.91.

Taipei fell 0.37 percent or 34.67 points to 9253.38.

HTC fell 1.55 percent to Tw127.0 while TSMC was 0.8 percent lower at Tw124.5.


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