Dec 8, 2014 7:55 AM

Markets weighed down by Asia growth concerns

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) Soft Chinese trade figures combined with news that Japan's recession is deeper than initially thought to weigh on most global stock markets on Monday. Oil prices resumed their slide, too, falling to five year lows.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France's CAC 40 was down 0.8 percent at 4,387, while Germany's DAX fell 0.6 percent to 10,034. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.8 percent lower at 6,691. Wall Street was poised for a subdued opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.3 percent.

ASIA FOCUS: Developments in Asia are the main focus in markets. From China, the world's number 2 economy, there was disappointment that export growth slumped last month and imports unexpectedly contracted. Both developments reinforce growth concerns. However Chinese stocks jumped as investors hope the government will dole out more stimulus. Meanwhile, in Japan, figures showed that the world's No. 3 economy shrank 1.9 percent in the July-September period.

ANALYST TAKE: "An implosion in Chinese trade data and a bigger than expected Japanese contraction in the third quarter demonstrate the constraints that Asia's two largest economies are putting on global growth," said Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets.

OIL PRICE IMPACT: The prospect of weaker growth in Asia put further pressure on oil prices. The benchmark New York rate was down $1.62 at $64.22 a barrel. Meanwhile, Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold on international markets, dropped $2.01 to $67.04. Both prices are at their lowest levels since 2009.

US JOBS: The concerns over China and Japan have offset the growing optimism over the state of the U.S. economy. Figures last Friday showed that U.S. employers added 321,000 jobs last month in the biggest burst of hiring in nearly three years. It's the latest round of upbeat data on the world's biggest economy that reinforces expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next year.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1 percent to close at 17,935.64. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.4 percent to 1,978.95 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent to 24,047.67. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China broke through the psychological 3,000 barrier, soaring 2.8 percent to 3,020.26, a level it hasn't closed at since April 2011. The index is up 25 percent in the past month.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was having a mixed day. The euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.2258 while the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 121.09 yen.


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