Asian markets mostly slipped yesterday on disappointment at the US Federal Reserve’s muted stimulus measures aimed at kick-starting the economy, while European concerns also remained in focus.
Adding to the selling pressure were preliminary numbers from banking giant HSBC showing China’s manufacturing activity hit a seven-month low in June.
Sydney fell 1.09%, or 44.8 points, to 4,087.6 and Seoul gave up 0.79%, or 14.97 points, to close at 1,889.15.
Hong Kong tumbled 1.30%, or 253.78 points, to 19,265.07 while Shanghai fell 1.40%, or 32points, to 2,260.88.
But Tokyo closed 0.82% higher, adding 71.76 points to 8,824.07 owing to a slightly weaker yen.
The US central bank said it would extend Operation Twist—selling short-term debt to buy longer term Treasuries—for another six months and was “prepared to take further action” if needed.
The plan is to push down interest rates for borrowers, reducing mortgage repayments.
However, traders who had sent markets higher in Asia on Wednesday in expectation of a third round of monetary stimulus—or quantitative easing—were unimpressed.
The Fed, after a two-day meeting, also predicted US growth would be even worse than thought this year, forecasting 2012 growth of between 1.9% and 2.4%—a half point cut from predictions made as recently as April.
Chairman Ben Bernanke also pointed to slower progress in reducing unemployment and to spillovers from Europe’s economic crisis.
“The Fed did the least that was expected, extending Operation Twist until the end of the year, but not altering the size of its balance sheet at all and not—as some analysts suggested it might—changing when it thinks it will start raising rates (still late 2014),” said FT Advisors in a research note.
In Beijing HSBC said early figures showed its Purchasing Managers Index, a gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity, fell to 48.1 in June compared with a final reading of 48.4 in May, indicating a sharp slowdown in the economy.
Anything above 50 is seen as growth while anything below is contraction.
The June figure marked the eighth consecutive month that manufacturing has contracted, while new export orders, a component of PMI, recorded their sharpest decline since March 2009, HSBC said, but did not give a figure.
In other markets in Asia, Singapore closed down 0.89%, or 25.53 points, at 2,830.15; Taipei fell 0.76%, or 55.58 points, to 7,279.05; Manila fell 0.72%, or 37.03 points, to 5,109.43; Wellington closed 1.03%, or 35.40 points, lower at 3,409.39; Jakarta fell 1.07%, or 42.11 points, to 3,901.79; Kuala Lumpur eased 0.18%, or 2.96 points, to 1,601.43 and Bangkok fell 1.21%, or 14.19 points, to 1,159.05.from gult times.