Asian Stocks Stumble as Global Growth Worries Persist

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By Investors Hub

Asian stocks finished mostly lower on Wednesday as global growth worries persisted and Italy’s populist government escalated a dispute with the European Commission over the country’s spending plans.

The Italian government told the European Union on Tuesday it would maintain its deficit and economic growth forecasts for 2019 despite calls from the bloc’s authorities to revise its draft budget.

Chinese shares fell after the release of mixed economic data. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 22.64 points or 0.9 percent to 2,632.24, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended down 138.44 points or 0.5 percent at 25,654.43.

Industrial production in China rose an annual 5.9 percent in October, the National Bureau of Statistics said today, exceeding expectations for 5.8 percent, which would have been unchanged from the September reading.

Retail sales climbed 8.6 percent year-on-year, missing forecasts for a gain of 9.2 percent, while fixed asset investment advanced an annual 5.7 percent, surpassing forecasts for 5.5 percent.

Japanese shares ended a choppy session higher as technology companies and electronic component makers surged on short covering. The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 35.96 points or 0.2 percent to 21,846.48, rebounding from the two-week low hit the previous day. The broader Topix Index closed 0.2 percent higher at 1,641.26.

Tokyo Electron, Advantest and TDK Corp rose 1-3 percent. Tokyo Electric Power surged up 6.8 percent and ChubuElectric Power rallied 3.7 percent on expectations that falling oil prices would contribute to lower costs.

Lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group gained 1.5 percent after raising its net profit outlook for the fiscal year ending in March. SoftBank advanced 4.7 percent on news that the company has invested another $3 billion in co-working office company WeWork.

In economic news, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report that Japan’s gross domestic product slipped a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent sequentially in the third quarter.

That was in line with expectations following the 0.7 percent gain in the previous three months. On an annualized seasonally adjusted basis, GDP tumbled 1.2 percent.

Australian markets fell sharply as oil extended losses in Asian trading after plunging 7 percent on Tuesday amid worries of oversupply and slowing global demand.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index plunged 101.40 points or 1.7 percent to 5,732.80 after falling 1.8 percent the previous day. The broader All Ordinaries Index slumped 1.7 percent to finish at 5,822.30.

Origin Energy, Oil Search, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Beach Energy tumbled 2-5 percent as oil extended a steep slide on growth fears.

Miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and South32 also fell 2-5 percent, while the big four banks lost 2-3 percent.

Plastics packaging maker Pact Group Holdings plummeted 9.7 percent after cutting its earnings forecast for fiscal 2019.

Meanwhile, Seven West Media rose over 2 percent. The media firm said it expects to grab a record share of the television ad market over the coming year.

In economic news, a survey from Westpac showed that its measure of Australian consumer confidence improved for a second month in November.

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