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Shanghai, Korea stocks lead Asia lower; global data fails to inspire

Asian shares followed their U.S. peers lower on Friday despite upbeat global economic data as profit-taking set in amid low trading volumes. Japanese markets remained closed and will resume trade on January 6.

Wall Street recorded its first negative start to a year since 2008 as investors took profits on recent gains. The posted its worst day in two months, with better-than-expected manufacturing reports in the U.S. and Europe failing to offer much comfort.

Attention now turns to a raft of speeches from Federal Reserve officials later in the day. Fed chief Ben Bernanke, alongside Plosser, Lacker, Stein, Dudley and Rosengren are due to speak and markets will be looking for hints of further reductions in monthly bond purchases.

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Shanghai 1.2% lower

Mainland shares extended losses for a third session following a drop in December's services purchasing manager's index (PMI). The data follows Thursday's lackluster factory activity and points to a cooling trend in the world's second-largest economy.

(Read more: Contrarian call: China to see double-digit growth in 2014)

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