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Asian stocks fall on China worries, lower energy prices

Asian stocks stumbled on Monday, as falling energy prices and disappointing manufacturing data out of China ignited "risk-off" sentiment.

The final reading for Caixin China purchasing managers' index (PMI) for July came in at 47.8, lower than the preliminary reading of 48.2 and marking a two-year low.

The figure also comes in below the official PMI figure released by the statistics bureau over the weekend. Growth at big manufacturing firms unexpectedly stalled last month with the official PMI standing 50.0 in July, compared with the previous month's 50.2 and below a Reuters' forecast of 50.2, as demand at home and abroad weakened.

A preliminary Caixin/Markit survey released earlier this month showed activity at smaller factories contracted by the most in 15 months. The index fell to 48.2 in July, coming in well below the 49.7 forecast from a Reuters poll and the 50-mark separating growth from contraction.

Wall Street finished mildly lower on Friday, the final day of trade for July, as investors digested missing in energy corporate earnings and soft U.S. data that could push an initial rate hike further out. According to government data, the second-quarter employment cost index recorded its slowest quarterly pace of growth on record.

Mainland markets down

China's Shanghai Composite index remained firmly in the red on Monday, closing down 1.1 percen, on the back of renewed concerns over the world's second-largest economy.

Meanwhile, market regulators suspended a trading account of U.S.-based hedge fund Citadel, the fund said Monday, as authorities in the mainland battle to prop up China's stumbling stock market.

In Shanghai, heavyweight PetroChina led losses with a slump of 4.6 percent, while Sinopec dropped 3.7 percent.

Among the country's other indexes, the CSI300 index recouped losses to inch up 0.3 percent and the smaller Shenzhen Composite eased 2.7 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tracked its mainland peers to move down 1 percent.

Shares of HSBC outperformed the Hong Kong market after reporting a 2 percent year-on-year rise in adjusted pre-tax profit to $13 billion for the first half. The Hong Kong-listed stock reversed a negative open to advance 2 percent.


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