Asian markets traded lower on Wednesday, October 14, as investors digested disappointing economic data from China.
Chinese inflation figures came in weaker than expected, and came a day after trade figures showed a steep fall in imports.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index closed down 1.8% at 17,907.39.
China’s main index Shanghai Composite edged up 0.2% to 3,299.51, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng index was down 0.61% at 22,460.16.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.56% to 5,173.80, while South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index dropped 0.55% to 2,007.72.
The latest official data from China – the world’s second largest economy – showed consumer inflation slowed to 1.6% in September from 2% in August. Wholesale inflation was 5.9%, unchanged from the month before.
The wholesale numbers were in line with expectations, but consumer inflation was expected to rise 1.8%. China’s target for consumer inflation is about 3%.
Economic data released on October 13 showed that imports in September fell by a more-than-expected 17.7% in yuan-denominated terms, while exports fell 1.1% from a year earlier.
As it continues to face a slowdown in economic growth, China is trying to move away from an export-led economy towards one led by consumer demand.
The sharp fall in imports posted on October 13 raised concerns around the world that domestic demand in China is weakening.
Asian stock markets were mostly lower on September 10 as economic data from Japan and China made investors cautious.
After surging almost 8% on September 9, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed down 2.5% at 18,299.62, among Asia’s big losers.
Worries about a slowdown China and the impact of a US interest rate hike also dented investors’ confidence.
Analysts said losses were to be expected considering Wednesday’s significant gains – particularly in Japan.
Core machinery orders in Japan, which are a key indicator of capital expenditure, fell by 3.6% in July compared with June.
The renewed decline suggested that business investment may fall yet again this quarter, economists said.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed down 2.4% at 5,098.40, following Wall Street lower and after two sessions of gains.
The Australian dollar fell together with the New Zealand dollar on Thursday after New Zealand’s central bank cut interest rates to 2.75% and said it may introduce further easing measures to boost its flagging economy.
In China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite ended down 1.4% to 3,197.89, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 2.6% to 21,562.5 points.
Official figures released on September 10 showed China’s consumer price index (CPI) unexpectedly rose to 2% in August from a year ago marking a one-year high.
The rise was due to higher food prices. Pork prices, which weigh heavily on consumer prices in China, rose from 16.7% last year to 19.6% in August.
China’s producer price index (PPI) fell 5.9% – marking its 42nd consecutive month of declines – and the biggest drop since 2009.
The one bright spot in Asia was South Korea’s Kospi which closed up 0.7% to 1,947.30 points.