Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Tuesday, as investors digested mixed economic data out of China.
During late Asian trade, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index inched down 0.3%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index ended 0.02% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index closed down 0.25% higher. Asian markets shrugged off a positive lead from Wall Street, where the S&P 500 closed at a fresh record high amid growing optimism over the health of the U.S. economy.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng edged lower after data showed that Chinese industrial output rose less-than-forecast in November, while retail sales topped expectations.
Industrial production in China rose 10% last month, below expectations for a 10.1% increase, while retail sales jumped 13.7%, beating estimates for a 13.3% gain.
The figures set the tone for the region with China demand and output closely watched for any signs of slowdown that could knock-on to neighbors such as South Korea and Japan as well as Australia - all of which see China as crucial to exports.
Elsewhere, in Tokyo, the Nikkei closed modestly lower as investors shrugged off a weaker yen. The U.S. dollar strengthened to 103.38 against the yen, compared to the previous session’s low of 102.87.
Honda saw shares drop 1.1%, while Sony and Panasonic retreated 1.95% and 1% respectively.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index pared earlier gains to close little changed near a three-month low as miners came under pressure. Australian commodity producers are heavily reliant on Chinese demand for raw materials.
Fortescue Metals Group saw shares slump 1.6%, PanAust tumbled 4.9%, while Rio Tinto declined 0.55%.
The nation’s largest insurer QBE Insurance saw shares plunge 9.8%, one day after losing 22%, after the firm warned it may post an unexpected net loss of AUD250 million for the year.
Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a modestly lower open.
The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a loss of 0.2% at the open, France’s CAC 40 futures shed 0.15%, London’s FTSE 100 futures indicated a decline of 0.2%, while Germany''s DAX futures pointed to a loss of 0.15%.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is to speak at an event in Rome; his comments will be closely watched.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to small gains at the open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.05% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.1% advance, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a rise of 0.15%.
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