Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Asian stocks struggle to advance

Asian stock markets stayed broadly flat after reports of the eurozone economy contracting
Asian stock markets stayed broadly flat after reports of the eurozone economy contracting

Asian stock markets outside of Japan have struggled to advance after data showed Europe tipping into recession territory while US retail sales disappointed investors.

The European Union's statistics agency confirmed that the 17 countries using the euro currency are shrinking, with the region's gross domestic product contracting 0.1% in the third quarter from the previous three-month period.

In the US, investors were dealt dual blows: a worse-than-expected earnings report from Wal-Mart, and weak manufacturing data.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2% to 21,146.29. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.2% to 1,867.71. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.1% at 4,343. Benchmarks in Taiwan and the Philippines rose. Mainland China's fell.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index was enjoying a second-day rally as Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda prepared to dissolve parliament, a move that would usher in elections next month. The Nikkei jumped 1.8% to 8,988.56.

US stocks closed lower Thursday, a third straight decline, as retailers reported mixed earnings for the previous quarter. Aside from Wal-Mart, Ross Stores and Limited Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, also issued forecasts that disappointed financial analysts.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.2% to 12,542.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.2% to 1,353.33. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.4% to 2,836.94.

Benchmark oil for December delivery fell 5 cents to 85.40 US dollars in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 87 cents to close at 85.45 US dollars a barrel in New York on Thursday.

In currencies, the dollar weakened to 81.14 yen from 81.21 yen late Thursday in New York. The euro was unchanged at 1.2773 US dollars.

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