Asian stocks fall

Asian stock markets fell Wednesday as slowing South Korean growth underscored weakness in overseas demand and investors fretted the U.S. Federal Reserve’s expected stimulus measures may not be enough to boost the economy.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index trimmed gains to be up just 6.68 points, or 0.1 percent, at 9,384.06. Exporters got a modest lift as the yen reversed some of its recent strength against the U.S. dollar.

Investors were reluctant to trade heavily ahead of the release of corporate results from major Japanese companies including Sony Corp. and Honda Motor Co. later this week.

South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.6 percent at 1,908.84 after government figures showed the country’s economic growth slowed sharply in the third quarter on weaker exports and manufacturing. Asia’s fourth-largest economy expanded 0.7 percent in the July-September period after 1.4 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.6 percent to 23,224.15 and mainland China’s benchmark dropped 0.5 percent to 3,027.34. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.9 percent to 4,648.10.

Benchmarks in India, Singapore and Taiwan also fell.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 5.41 points, or 0.1 percent, at 11,169.46. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.02 to 1,185.64 while the technology-focused Nasdaq composite index rose 6.44, or 0.3 percent, to 2,497.29.

Investors have bet that the U.S central bank will enact a bond-buying program in early November in a bid to support the world’s biggest economy. Buying bonds would drive interest rates and yields even lower, which makes stocks a more attractive investment.

Traders have speculated the size of the Fed’s bond purchase will be around $500 billion. But investors were worrying it may be smaller than previously expected following a speech Monday by William Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Dudley said further Fed action was “likely to be warranted” unless the economic outlook improved. Still, he added that the Fed “cannot wave a magic wand and make the problems remaining from the preceding period of excess vanish immediately.”

In currencies, the dollar rose to 81.75 yen from 81.41 yen late Tuesday in New York. The euro fell to $1.3808 from $1.3856.

Benchmark crude for November delivery was down 40 cents to $82.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 3 cents to settle at $82.55 on Tuesday.
Source: AP

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