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Asia stocks waver as data keeps sentiment in check

Posted: July 20, 2012 10:30 a.m.
Updated: July 20, 2012 10:30 a.m.
 

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets wavered Friday as weak U.S. data kept sentiment in check despite continued hopes for new stimulus measures in major economies.

Investors have been anticipating further moves by China to prop up slowing economic growth and also have continued to believe the U.S. Federal Reserve will announce additional pro-growth measures despite Fed chairman Ben Bernanke giving no indication of that in his two-day testimony to lawmakers this week.

The mood of optimism in markets the past few days linked to stimulus hopes was tempered by a batch of weak economic U.S. data. Weekly jobless claims rose 34,000 to a three-week high of 386,000 and an indicator of regional manufacturing was much weaker than anticipated. Homes sales and leading economic indicators were also soft.

"The outlook ... is clouded by uncertainty surrounding the Chinese and US economies, in addition to lingering risk of a blowout in Europe," analysts at DBS Bank in Singapore said in a report. "Growth in China has been especially critical in driving growth in Asia, and even global growth."

Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 0.9 percent at 8,717.60 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2 percent to 19,602.21.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed at 4,206.10 and China's Shanghai Composite dropped 0.4 percent to 2,175.75.

Markets in Singapore, India and New Zealand were down while Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines rose.

In the U.S. on Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 percent to 12,943.36 and the broader S&P 500 index gained 0.3 percent to 1,376.51 as strong corporate earnings buoyed investors.

Benchmark oil was down 53 cents at $92.13 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract surged $2.79, about 3 percent, to $92.66 in New York on Thursday, its highest level since mid-May.

In currencies, the euro was down 0.1 percent to $1.2260. The dollar fell 0.2 percent to 78.62 yen.

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