Asian stocks mostly lower after US declines

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly lower Tuesday after Wall Street's losses overnight and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, a major financial center, added to worries about political risk.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.2 percent to 22,945.80 points after protesters demanding democratic reforms blocked streets in the business district. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 plunged 1.5 percent to 16,070.90 and China's Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 2,357.91. Sydney's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 5,275.60 while Seoul, Taipei, Singapore and New Zealand declined.

HONG KONG PROTESTS: Thousands of people have blocked streets in the territory's business district to protest government plans to require candidates in the territory's first election for its leader to be approved by a panel dominated by business leaders who support the communist mainland government. Some banks and schools closed temporarily and some public transit was suspended but analysts say they see no large-scale impact yet on the territory's economy.

JAPANESE WAGES: Japan's government reported wage growth slowed in August to 1.4 percent over a year earlier from the previous month's 2.4 percent. Analyst Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said the labor market is likely to weaken further and earnings growth could settle at about 1 percent — too low to drive inflation to the Bank of Japan's 2 percent target.

UKRAINE UNREST: Ukraine suffered its deadliest violence in more than a week as fighting in the east between pro-Russian rebels and government troops killed at least 12 people and wounded 32. That came despite a Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement and assurances by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last week that "the most dangerous part of the war" is over.

THE QUOTE: "U.S. stocks fell overnight against a geopolitical backdrop that was worsened by the ongoing protests in Hong Kong and the highest casualty count in Ukraine since a ceasefire was agreed upon," said Desmond Chua of CMC Markets in a report.

WALL STREET: Stocks slid in choppy trading amid concern about Hong Kong and high equity prices. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.2 percent and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index ended down 0.3 percent. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 23 cents to $94.34. The contract lost 3 cents on Monday to close at $94.57.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 109.31 yen from Monday's 109.40 while the euro was steady at $1.269.