Asian markets edged lower Thursday even as data showed China’s services sector grew at a slower pace in May from the previous month.
The Nikkei edged up 0.1% The Shanghai Composite gained 0.4% while the Hang Seng was down 0.3%. The Sensex was down 0.3% while the All Ordinaries slipped 0.1%.
The HSBC China Services Purchasing Managers’ Index, PMI, fell to 50.7 in May from 51.4 in April, in contrast with the official services PMI released earlier this week which rose to 55.5, painting a more upbeat picture.
In other data, Australia reported its first monthly trade deficit in April since November last year. The seasonally adjusted trade deficit stood at A$122 million compared with expectations for a surplus of A$300 million. The data showed exports fell a percent from March while imports rose 2%.
Market players awaited cues from the European Central Bank’s policy meeting later today and a key jobs report in the U.S. later before the U.S. market open.
Stocks on the Move
Sapporo Holdings fell 6.8% after the beer-maker said it may have to pay additional liquor taxes of as much as 11.6 billion yen.
Softbank edged up 0.1% even as media reports said its U.S. unit Sprint is close to an agreement to acquire T-Mobile for about $32 billion.
Index heavyweight Sony was down 0.4% while Fujitsu fell 2.1%. Sharp Corp. moved up 3.4% while Olympus gained 1.5%.
In Hong Kong, Evergrande Real Estate Group advanced over 3% on reports e-commerce major Alibaba would buy a stake in the former’s football club.
Banks traded mostly lower both Bank of Communications and China Construction Bank down over half a percent each. ICBC edged down 0.2% but AgBank was up over half a percent.
Banking stocks were also lower in India with HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank both down 1.8% and 1.2% each, respectively.
Other losers included M&M, down 1.3%, Dr. Reddy’s and Cipla, both down a percent each.
Outside the Sensex, fertilizer companies’ shares gained on hopes the new government would clear the outstanding subsidy payments to the sector.
In Sydney, major miner BHP Billiton edged up 0.1% while Rio Tinto also moved up 0.4%. BHP Billiton confirmed it was cutting jobs in iron ore headquarters in Perth.
Fortescue Metals and Atlas Iron added 3.7% and 1.5% each, respectively on the back of a gain in iron ore prices.
Oil Search climbed 1.8% after it increased full-year production guidance after the market close Wednesday.
Rare earths miner Lynas sank over 6% after the company said its chief executive Eric Noyrez had left the company just 14 months into the job.