Asia stocks drop as US economic data disappoints
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets fell Thursday, hit by a weaker-than-expected report on U.S. durable goods orders and signs of slower economic growth in Britain.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index retreated for a second day from a one-year high, falling 0.8 percent to 10,103.06.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 1.1 percent to 20,650.15 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.1 percent to 2,010.33.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.1 percent to 4,339.70. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and mainland China also fell.
The U.S. Commerce Department said orders for durable goods rose 2.2 percent in February, compared with a steep drop in January. Analysts had expected orders to increase 2.7 percent.
"Yesterday's durable goods report suggested further weakness ahead," said analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore. While recent sentiment has focused on data pointing toward an accelerating U.S. economy, the analysts said that "deceleration, and a fairly one sharp at that, is what's going on."
Meanwhile, a revised report showed that Britain's economy shrank 0.3 percent between October and December, compared with the previous estimate of a 0.2 percent drop.
Investors are holding back as they await news later this week on Europe's progress in resolving its debt crisis and also weekly jobless claims in the U.S., analysts aid.
Investors are also concerned about recent signs of a slowdown in China. China is a huge importer of raw materials, so a slowing economy there can weigh on prices for raw materials.
Falling commodity prices on Wednesday punished materials and energy companies, pushing Wall Street's major stock indexes to a lower close.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.5 percent at 13,126.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.5 percent to 1,405.54. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.5 percent, to 3,104.96.
Benchmark crude oil was down 7 cents to $105.34 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.92 to end at $105.41 per barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3313 from $1.3324 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar fell to 82.65 yen from 82.79 yen.
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