Asian markets lower after Wall Street rout

TOKYO -- Asian shares skidded lower Monday, following another dismal day on Wall Street, as investors looked ahead to Chinese economic growth figures.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.9 per cent to 16,814.10 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.6 per cent to 19,210.83. The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.4 per cent to 2,890.93 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.5 per cent to 1,868.86. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1 per cent to 4,846.00. Shares in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia also fell.

U.S. GLOOM: The S&P 500 sank 2.2 per cent Friday and has tumbled 8 per cent since the year began, deflated by expectations of further declines in oil prices and fears that China is slowing more than forecast. While the U.S. economy appears relatively stable, with strong job growth and resilient consumer spending, a weakening in industrial production in recent months has raised worries over manufacturing.

CHINA ECONOMY: Fourth quarter growth figures due Tuesday will likely show that strong consumer spending offset slowing investment, keeping growth in the last quarter of 2015 at around 6.8 per cent or higher, analysts say. But recent volatility in Chinese markets is overshadowing those trends of stabilization in China's growth picture.

THE QUOTE: "With worries about global growth likely to linger we could still see more downside in share markets in the short term," said Shane Oliver of AMP Capital. But for China's data releases, he said, "The overall impression is expected to be one of stable as opposed to collapsing growth."

ENERGY: The nuclear deal between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers took effect over the weekend, ending a European oil embargo on the world's seventh-largest oil producer. That is reinforcing expectations that prices will remain weak as supply overwhelms demand. Benchmark U.S. crude was down 26 cents to $29.16 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.78 on Friday to $29.42 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 26 cents to $28.68 per barrel. It fell $1.94 to $28.94 in London on Friday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 117.15 yen from 117.00 yen on Friday. The euro fell to $1.0904 from $1.0913.


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