Thursday, June 4, 2009

Asian Stock Markets Fall After Disappointing US Data

. Thursday, June 4, 2009

By stockOzone team

Asian stock markets fell Thursday after weaker-than-expected economic figures in the world's largest economy led investors to take profits from a recent advance.

Investor optimism has swelled in recent months with signs the economy was starting to heal, so they were disappointed when figures about the services industry and factory orders in the U.S. came in worse than anticipated.

The news dragged Wall Street lower overnight, snapping a four-day winning streak, and Asia's bourses followed, some with declines of 2 percent or more.

With historically low interest rates sending many investors after higher returns, some analysts expected Thursday's selling to be short-lived even if stock prices were starting to overvalue some companies. Major indexes from Asia to the U.S. have risen 30 percent or more since early March on signs the global recession is easing.

"The market is getting ahead of the fundamentals, the global economy is improving but still hasn't recovered. But I still see this as more profit taking and think we could still go higher," said Francis Lun, general manager of Fulbright Securities in Hong Kong.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average lost 72.71, 0.8 percent, to 9,668.96.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng shed 453.02 points, or 2.4 percent, to 18,123.45, and South Korea's Kospi swooned 36.75, or 2.6 percent, to 1,378.14.

Benchmarks in Australia and Taiwan were off about 2 percent, while India's Sensex fell 1.4 percent to 14,663.05.

With U.S. futures down, Wall Street was headed for a lower open. Dow futures lost 11, or 0.1 percent, to 8,658 and S&P futures shed 0.2 points to 931.50.

Overnight, the Dow fell 65.63, or 0.8 percent, to 8,675.24. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 12.98, or 1.4 percent, to 931.76. The Nasdaq composite index fell 10.88, or 0.6 percent, to 1,825.92.

Oil prices hovered above $66 a barrel in Asia after a jump in U.S. crude inventories triggered a sharp pullback from a three-month rally.

Benchmark crude for July delivery was down 3 cents at $66.09 a barrel. The contract tumbled $2.43 overnight.

The dollar gained to 96.12 yen from 95.93 yen. The euro traded higher at $1.4184 from $1.4145.

Disclosure: Author does not own any of the stocks discussed here.

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