Asia markets lower on slumping US, EU confidence

August 30, 2011 - 10:25 PM
Wall Street

Specialist Jason Hardzewicz works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian-Pacific shares were mostly lower in early trading Wednesday, with market sentiment dampened by a slump in U.S. consumer confidence and a downturn in economic sentiment in Europe.

After four days of gains, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4 percent at 8,911.35. Australia's S&P ASX 200 index lost 0.2 percent to 4,259.80. South Korea's Kospi index was flat at 1,843.90.

Sentiment in Japan was further dampened after Japan's industrial production, while rising for the fourth straight month in July, fell short of forecasts.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Wednesday that industrial production edged up 0.6 percent from the previous month. The ministry had projected a 2.2 percent rise.

Sectors that fueled the improvement included transport equipment and general machinery. Komatsu Ltd., a world leader in equipment making, rose 0.4 percent. Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. was 0.1 percent higher.

In Europe on Tuesday, stocks were hurt by a report showing economic sentiment in the eurozone was souring due to uncertainties about the future of the global economic recovery and the region's festering debt crisis.

The European Union's economic sentiment index fell by a greater-than-expected 4.7 points to 98.3 — the sixth consecutive decline, bringing the indicator below its long-term average of 100.

Wall Street, though, traded higher despite a survey showing a slump in consumer confidence in the U.S., as investors took the opportunity to buy into what they considered cheap stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent to close at 11,559.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.2 percent to 1,212.92. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.6 percent to 2,576.11.

The euro dropped to $1.4426 from $1.4447 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar was lower against Japan's currency, at 76.62 yen from 76.72 yen.