published Monday, May 19th, 2014

Global stocks lower after weak China housing data

  • photo
    A Chinese national flag flutters in the wind in between a high-rise residential and office complex in Beijing, China, on Monday, May 19, 2014. Asian stock markets were mostly lower Monday after China reported a weak increase in housing prices. The Chinese government is trying to restrain surging housing costs with lending and other curbs. But any weakness in sales prompts fears of repercussions for other industries and possible debt problems if developers default on loans.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

By JOE McDONALD

AP Business Writer

BEIJING — Global stocks were mostly lower Monday after a subdued increase in Chinese house prices fanned fears of weakness in the world's No. 2 economy.

The Chinese government is trying to restrain housing costs that have surged in recent years with lending and other curbs. But any weakness in sales prompts fears of repercussions for other industries and possible debt problems if developers default on loans. The Chinese data comes on top of weaker-than-expected economic growth in Europe.

"There could be concerns about increased risks of a hard landing in the property market," said Mizuho Bank in a report.

In Europe, Germany's DAX shed 0.8 percent to 9,548.82 and France's CAC 40 dropped 0.7 percent to 4,425.71. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.6 percent to 6,814.49.

Futures pointed to losses on Wall Street. Dow and S&P 500 futures were both down 0.4 percent.

Investors are looking ahead to meetings on Tuesday of the U.S. Federal Reserve and on Wednesday of the Bank of Japan, though no major policy changes are expected.

In Asia, China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.1 percent to 2,005.18 after month-on-month gains in housing prices slowed to 0.1 percent in April from March's 0.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed at 22,704.50.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.6 percent to 14,006.44 despite a report that March machinery orders soared 19.1 percent from a year earlier, beating expectations.

"The surge in machinery orders in March suggests that the recovery in business investment remains on track," said Marcel Theliant of Capital Economics in a report.

Elsewhere, Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 tumbled 1.3 percent to 5,409. Seoul's Kospi gained 0.1 percent to 2,015.14 and Taiwan's Taiex added 0.1 percent to 8,899.90. Benchmarks in Singapore and Indonesia fell.

India's Sensex rose 1 percent to 24,358.72, getting another boost from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's landslide election victory.

The index surged as much as 6.1 percent on Friday after preliminary results showed the party had won enough seats to govern without a coalition. Its party's candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, had campaign on a pledge to revive economic growth.

U.S. crude oil for June delivery was up 56 cents to $102.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 52 cents Friday to close at $102.02 amid tensions in Ukraine and concern about possible disruption in Russian supplies.

In currency markets, the euro rose to $1.3714 from $1.3696 late Friday. The dollar fell to 101.37 yen from 101.54 yen.

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