Asian markets fall after disappointing economic data from Japan, China

 Asian markets fall after disappointing economic data from Japan, China

BEIJING — Major Asian stock markets fell Monday after Japan reported weaker-than-expected growth in factory output and Chinese manufacturing growth was flat.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong retreated while Seoul swung between small gains and losses.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index ended last week higher for a monthly gain in May of 0.5%.

Investors are wavering between optimism about consumer spending and factory output reviving and unease that rising inflation pressure might prompt governments and central banks to withdraw stimulus.

“It still feels like a market looking for direction in the face of uncertainty,” said Patrik Schowitz of JP Morgan Asset Management in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index
SHCOMP,
-0.20%

lost 0.2% after an industry group and the national statistics agency reported manufacturing activity held steady in May, adding to signs a rebound is leveling off.

The Nikkei 225
NIK,
-1.18%

in Tokyo tumbled 1% after May retail sales fell 4.5% from the previous month and factory output rose above pre-pandemic levels for the first time but growth of 2.5% was lower than expected.

The Hang Seng
HSI,
-0.50%

in Hong Kong lost 0.5% while the Kospi
180721,
-0.02%

in Seoul edged down 0.1%.

The S&P/ASX 200
XJO,
-0.23%

in Sydney was off 0.1%. New Zealand
NZ50GR,
1.00%

and Jakarta
JAKIDX,
0.81%

gained while Singapore
STI,
-0.53%

retreated.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500
SPX,
0.08%

ended up 0.1% on Friday at 4,204.11.

The index ended up for May after a bumpy few weeks of selling by investors who focused on the conflict between economic recovery and inflation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
0.19%

added 0.2% to 34,529.45. The tech-heavy Nasdaq
COMP,
0.09%

gained 0.1% to 13,748.74.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday that personal consumption expenditures, a measure of inflation used by the Federal Reserve, rose by 3.6% in April. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, inflation 3.1%, well above the Fed’s long-term target of 2%.

Fed officials said earlier the economy would be allowed to “run hot” to make sure a recovery is established, but investors worried the U.S. and other central banks might feel pressure to withdraw stimulus after unexpectedly sharp rises in prices of consumer goods and some commodities. They have been at least temporarily reassured by comments from Fed officials who say it is too early to change direction.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude
CLN21,
0.62%

rose 36 cents to $66.68 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 43 cents on Friday to $66.32 per barrel. Brent crude
BRNQ21,
0.57%
,
used to price international oils, added 28 cents to $69.00 per barrel in London. It gained 17 cents the previous session to $69.63.

The dollar
USDJPY,
-0.17%

declined to 109.67 Japanese yen from Friday’s 109.81 yen.

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