Asian stocks lower as slowdown concerns linger

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were lower Monday, shrugging off robust Chinese trade figures as investors exited riskier assets after concerns resurfaced about the global economic outlook.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.6 percent to 22,962.35 and China's Shanghai Composite slid 1 percent to 2,351.39. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.8 percent to 1,926.18. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.6 percent to 5,159.00. Markets in Southeast Asia and New Zealand also dropped. Stock markets in Japan were closed for a holiday.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: Last week, the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecasts for this year and next, citing weakness in Japan, Latin America and Europe. The global economy will expand 3.3 percent this year instead of 3.4 percent and expand 3.8 percent in 2015. The IMF said recovery is "weak and uneven" in the advanced economies.

CHINA TRADE: China's trade improved in September but analysts said the improvement in imports was driven by demand for components used in export manufacturing rather than a robust domestic economy. The Customs Administration said Monday that exports rose 15.2 percent from the same month last year, while imports were up 6.9 percent. Exports grew 9.4 percent in August while imports shrank for a second month in a row.

EUROPE WORRY: Investors are eyeing Europe after Germany, the region's largest economy, reported disappointing trade figures that underlined weak global demand. Germany said on Thursday its exports dropped 5.8 percent in August from July, the steepest decline since early 2009. Imports fell by 1.3 percent. The trade data was the latest downbeat news from the Europe's economic powerhouse, which has suffered drops in industrial production, factory orders and business confidence.

FED WATCH: The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's Sept. 16-17 meeting showed that officials are concerned about lackluster growth in Europe, slowing growth in Japan and China as well as the impact on the United States of a strong dollar. Policymakers would start raising interest rates only after the economy came close to the U.S. central bank's goals for maximum employment with inflation running at an annual rate of 2 percent.

WALL STREET: On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.7 percent to 16,544.10 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 1.2 percent to 1,906.13.The Nasdaq slid 2.3 percent to 4,276.24.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude plunged $1.21 to $84.61 per barrel. On Friday, the contract inched up 5 cents to $85.82. Brent crude, used to price international oils, sank $1.24 to $89.34.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 107.13 yen from 107.65 yen late Friday. The euro rose to $1.2693 from $1.2626.