Asian stocks fall on concerns about weak Chinese trade, Japan's recession

BEIJING, China – Asian stocks mostly fell Tuesday on concern about feeble Chinese trade figures, Japan’s recession and weaker-than-expected German industrial growth.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 per cent to 17,873.18 while China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 1.2 per cent to 3,055.78. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1 per cent to 23,794.40 and Seoul’s Kospi fell 0.3 per cent to 1,971.93. Sydney, Jakarta and Manila also fell.

CHINESE TRADE: Customs data showed November export growth was weaker than forecast and imports unexpectedly contracted. That suggested economic growth might be cooling further after hitting a five-year low in the latest quarter. Forecasters say a boost to growth from a surprise interest rate cut in November might not show up until as late as the second quarter of next year.

JAPAN’S RECESSION: Revised figures for the July-September quarter showed its economy shrank 1.9 per cent, a bigger drop than previously estimated.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “The boost in sentiment from an upbeat U.S. jobs report faded as concerns about growth, especially in emerging countries, resurfaced,” said Mizuho Bank in a report.

GERMAN WEAKNESS: Industrial production in Europe’s biggest economy grew by a weaker-than-expected 0.2 per cent in October. Germany is barely growing, expanding by just 0.1 per cent in the third quarter.

CHINESE STOCKS: Prices of some major Chinese issues including state-owned banks and oil companies, fell as the market took a break from a buying frenzy that has pushed up the Shanghai benchmark by 48 per cent since June. Sinopec Ltd., Asia’s biggest oil refiner by volume, was off 3.2 per cent, and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. was off 2.6 per cent.

WALL STREET: The six-month-old decline in global crude prices dragged down shares in energy companies and raised concerns about headwinds for U.S. growth. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.6 per cent to 17,852.48 and the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 was off 0.7 per cent at 2,060.31. The Nasdaq composite shed 0.8 per cent to 4,740.69.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude shed another 30 cents to $62.75 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged by $2.79 on Monday to close at $63.05. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 38 cents to $65.81.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 120.73 yen from Monday’s 120.87 yen. The euro slipped to $1.2300 from $1.2307.