HONG KONG, Sep 2: Asian stocks extended a global market sell-off Wednesday as poor manufacturing data from the world's two biggest economies dampened investor sentiment.
KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China led declines in Asia, falling as much as 4.4 percent at the open before reeling back losses to trade 2 percent lower at 3,105.13. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.1 percent to 20,956.36 and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.6 percent to 1,903.51. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index was the sole major Asian benchmark to rise, climbing 0.6 percent to 18,265.38. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.2 percent to 5,036.10.
FACTORY FUNK: Disappointing manufacturing data from the United States and China was one big factor contributing to the market malaise. A key U.S manufacturing index released Tuesday for August slid to its lowest level since May 2013 on the stronger dollar and slowing growth in foreign markets. Earlier in the day, an official Chinese survey of factory purchasing managers slumped to its lowest level in three years.
QUOTE-WORTHY: "Investor hopes that share market volatility had been put behind them have proven short-lived," Ric Spooner of CMC Markets wrote in a commentary. "Market action itself has again become the dominant concern for investors," he said. Wall Street's steep drop overnight reinforced investor skittishness that's adding to selling pressure, he said.
GLOBAL OUTLOOK: The release of monthly U.S. jobs data on Friday will also provide further cues for investors while uncertainty over whether Federal Reserve officials, who meet Sept. 16-17, will raise rates continues to overshadow markets. In China, markets may be more volatile on Wednesday, which is the last day of trading before a two-day holiday to celebrate Japan's defeat in World War II. Some analysts think Beijing will try to intervene in the markets to prop up share prices heading into the holiday.
IMF PESSIMISM: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a speech in Indonesia that global economic growth is likely to be weaker than expected. Asia is still expected to lead global growth, but the pace is slowing and could sag further because of recent financial market volatility.
"Overall, we expect global growth to remain moderate and likely weaker than we anticipated in July," Lagarde said. That reflects "weaker-than-expected recovery in advanced economies and a further slowdown in emerging economies, especially Latin America," she said.