- Asian stock markets were broadly lower on Thursday, following the release of disappointing Chinese manufacturing data.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.4%, China’s Shanghai Composite index declined 0.5%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index closed 1.07% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index ended down 0.79%.

Midway through the session, data showed that China’s HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index, the earliest indicator of the country''s industrial activity, fell to a six-month low of 49.6 in January from a final reading of 50.5 in December.

Shares in the financial sector were under pressure despite reports that China’s central bank injected CNY120 billion to the financial system in an effort to ease concerns over a possible credit squeeze.

In Hong Kong, China Construction Bank shares dropped 2.8%, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China fell 3%, while China Minsheng Bank and China Merchants Bank slumped 3.5% and 4% respectively.

Meanwhile, in Tokyo, the Nikkei reversed earlier gains to close lower as traders continued to monitor movements in the currency market.

USD/JPY rose to a daily high of 104.83 during morning trade before turning sharply lower to trade at 104.30 following the release of the disappointing China manufacturing PMI.

A stronger yen reduces the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, dampening the outlook for export earnings.

Automakers Toyota and Nissan saw shares retreat 1.3% and 2.5% respectively, while Sharp lost 2.1%.

Elsewhere, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index fell to a more than one-week low as losses in the financial and mining sectors weighed on the benchmark index.

Commonwealth Banking Group retreated 1%, while Australia and New Zealand Banking and Westpac Banking declined 1.4% and 1.6% respectively.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto slumped 1.6% and 0.95%, while Fortescue Metals Group fell 2.05%.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a lower open. The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a loss of 0.2% at the open, France’s CAC 40 futures shed 0.1%, London’s FTSE 100 futures indicated a decline of 0.15%, while Germany''s DAX futures pointed to a drop of 0.2%.

Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets also pointed to a lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a loss of 0.4%, S&P 500 futures inched down 0.35%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a decline of 0.1%.

The U.S. is to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims later in the day as well as a private sector report on existing home sales.

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