Asian stocks erased early gains to end mostly lower on Thursday after a raft of Chinese data came in below estimates. Investors also awaited the release of U.S. inflation data later in the day for clues on the possible timing of the Federal Reserve’s next rate rise.
Chinese shares eased from a 20-month high after the release of weaker-than-expected data. The benchmark Shanghai Composite shed 12.72 points or 0.38 percent to finish at 3,371.43 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.37 percent at 27,792 in late trade.
China’s industrial output grew an annual 6.0 percent in August, the National Bureau of Statistics said – missing forecasts for an increase of 6.6 percent and down from 6.4 percent in July.
Retail sales rose 10.1 percent – again missing expectations for 10.5 percent growth, while fixed asset investment advanced an annual 6.7 percent – shy of forecasts for 6.8 percent.
Japanese shares edged lower to snap a three-day winning streak as the dollar held steady against the yen and data showed Japan’s industrial output declined as initially estimated in July.
Sentiment also turned sour after North Korea threatened to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a new round of sanctions by the United Nations.
The Nikkei average fell by 58.38 points or 0.29 percent to 19,807.44, dragged down by commodity-related stocks like Toho Zinc and Mitsui Mining & Smelting.
The broader Topix index hit its highest level in more than two years before reversing direction to end the session 0.32 percent lower at 1,632.13.
Toshiba Corp tumbled 4.5 percent after saying it was stepping up talks to sell its flash memory unit to a consortium led by U.S. investment fund Bain Capital.
Australian shares fell for a second day after China reported weak factory data and domestic data showed the unemployment rate held steady in August despite phenomenal employment growth.
Both the S&P/ASX 200 index and the All Ordinaries index…