Asia Stocks Lower On Weak U.S. Cues

Asian stock markets were mostly lower Thursday after Wall Street suffered its longest losing streak since December.

Contentious budget negotiations in Washington and concerns over the direction of U.S. monetary policy were again a drag on the U.S. market. The S&P 500  fell 0.3% to 1,692.77, its fifth straight loss.

The index has fallen nearly 2% since the Federal Reserve last week surprised investors with a decision to maintain the pace of its $85-billion-a-month bond-purchasing program.

“People are still scratching their heads, trying to figure out why the Fed delayed,” said Jiong Shao, head of China strategy at Macquarie. “What did they see that made them have a 180 degree turn?”

A report that Wal-Mart Stores Inc.  , the world’s largest retailer, is struggling to clear inventory added to economic worries. A spokeswoman for the company called the report “misleading.”

Shares of Hong Kong retail middleman Li & Fung Ltd.  ,which sources products for U.S. retailers such as Target Corp.  and Kohl’s Corp., slumped to six-week low following the report. The stock was the biggest decliner on Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index, which fell 0.6%.

A thin calendar in Asia left local stocks to take much direction from the weak U.S. session.

Stocks in Tokyo recouped early losses as the yen weakened against the U.S. dollar.The Japanese currency  changed hands at 98.67 yen per dollar, compared with ¥98.43 late Wednesday in New York.

Sydney refocused its gaze on the U.S. after bucking Wall Street’s losses Wednesday in a surprisingly strong session. The S&P/ASX 200  fell 0.2%.

Australia’s heavily weighted bank shares traded broadly in the red. National Australia Bank Ltd.  fell 0.9% and Westpac Banking Corp.  shed 0.5%.

China’s Shanghai Composite  fell 1% as investors reduced exposure ahead of the long Golden Week holiday starting Tuesday.

Source : marketwatch