Asian stocks pulled down by weaker Chinese economy

BEIJING - Asian stock prices tumbled Wednesday after the IMF's lower growth forecast added to anxiety over Wall Street turbulence and a weaker Chinese economy.

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KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 2.7 per cent to 16,596.06 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged 3.5 per cent to 18,955.65. The Shanghai Composite retreated 0.9 per cent to 2,979.26 and South Korea's Kospi fell 2.3 per cent to 1,847.06. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.8 per cent to 4,865.80. Markets in Southeast Asia also retreated.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks struggled through turbulent trading Tuesday and eked out small gains, led by utility and consumer stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 183 points in the first minutes of trading Tuesday. Gains faded in the afternoon before a late spurt of buying. The Dow ended up 27.94 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 16,016.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose one point to 1,881.33. The Nasdaq composite index fell 11.47 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,476.95. Major indexes had plunged Friday, and the Dow and S&P 500 are coming off their worst opening weeks of a year in history.

CHINESE SLOWDOWN: The world's second-largest economy cooled further in the latest quarter, dragging 2015's growth to a 25-year low of 6.9 per cent. The slowdown has dampened demand for goods from oil to iron to heavy machinery. Anxiety over China's outlook has contributed to oil prices falling to 12-year lows.

THE QUOTE: "The Chinese economy is stabilizing on the back of resilient consumer spending, a thriving services sector, a steady rebound of the property market and a still tight labour market. But the pressing issue here isn't so much about short term growth momentum. It is about confidence in macroeconomic management," said DBS Group in a report. "How can the Chinese government effectively implement structural reforms under the prevailing context? This is the source of pessimism now."

IMF OUTLOOK: The International Monetary cut its forecast for this year's global economic growth to 3.4 per cent from its October outlook of 3.6 per cent. The IMF downgraded the outlook for developing economies to 4.3 per cent growth from a forecast of 4.5 per cent in October. Earlier this month, the World Bank cut its global growth forecast to 2.9 per cent from last June's 3.3 per cent outlook.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 47 cents to $27.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 96 cents to $28.46 on Monday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 13 cents to $28.63 in London. The contract rose 21 cents on Monday to close at $28.76.

CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 117.20 yen from 117.46 in the previous trading session. The euro edged up to $1.0942 from $1.0920.


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