China data, weak US sales see world stocks edge down

AP and AFP

BEIJING/HONG KONG–World stocks mostly fell Monday. Germany’s DAX shed 0.6 percent to 9,922.53 and France’s CAC 40 dropped 1.1 percent to 4,343.60. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 1 percent to 6,656.39. Futures pointed to losses on Wall Street. Dow futures fell 0.4 percent to 17,734 and S&P 500 futures dropped 0.5 percent to 2,056.10.

Early discounting, more online shopping and a mixed economy meant fewer people shopped over Thanksgiving weekend, the National Retail Federation said Sunday. Overall, 133.7 million people shopped in stores and online over the four-day weekend, down 5.2 percent from last year, according to a survey of 4,631 people. Total spending for the weekend is expected to fall 11 percent to US$50.9 billion from an estimated US$57.4 billion last year.

Asian markets mostly fell Monday, but Tokyo hit a seven-year high as the yen slipped against the dollar. Tokyo stocks rose 0.75 percent to a seven-year high Monday as the dollar picked up against the yen in response to OPEC’s decision not to cut output. The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange added 130.25 points to 17,590.10, while the Topix index of all first-section shares rose 0.80 percent, or 11.31 points, to 1,421.65. Sydney sank 1.98 percent, or 105.3 points, to close at 5,207.7 and Seoul fell 0.79 percent, or 15.56 points, to 1,965.22. Hong Kong shares tumbled 2.58 percent after another poor reading on Chinese manufacturing activity that highlights ongoing weakness in the world’s number two economy. The Hang Seng Index fell 620.00 points to 23,367.45 on turnover of HK$105.14 billion (US$13.57 billion). China’s official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of manufacturing eased to 50.3 last month, lower than the 50.8 seen in October and the weakest since March. A figure above 50 signals expansion in the sector, while anything below indicates contraction. The figure is the latest pointing to a slowdown in the world’s number two economy and follows a surprise move by the central People’s Bank of China on Nov. 21 to cut interest rates. HSBC’s final PMI for November came in at the 50.0 break-even point dividing expansion and contraction, matching a preliminary figure released last month.

Adding to worries about the economy, the independent China Index Academy said Sunday that house prices in the country’s 100 major cities fell on a monthly basis for the seventh straight month in November. A string of recent data has shown that the Chinese economy is also struggling with soft exports and a weakening property market. Among other firms HSBC lost 1.23 percent to HK$76.10 and Tencent tumbled 2.98 percent to HK$120.30, while New World Development was off 2.05 percent at HK$9.07. In mainland China the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.10 percent, or 2.68 points, to 2,680.16 on turnover of 401.1 billion yuan (US$65.3 billion).

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, fell 0.55 percent, or 7.76 points, to 1,412.56 on turnover of 279.0 billion yuan.