Singapore: Asian stock markets were lower Wednesday as concerns about slowing economic growth in China weighed sentiment, with sharp losses in the mining and steel sectors leading declines.
"Clearly any signs of a Chinese slowdown will manifest negatively... however the question remains, are we witnessing a hard-landing scenario in motion or China's grand plan to promote sustainable long-term growth?" Christopher Gore, currency analyst at Go Markets, said in a note.
Mining and steel stocks were broadly lower following BHP Billiton officials' comments on waning Chinese iron ore demand.
In Tokyo, Nippon Steel fell 1.7 percenrt and Sumitomo Metal Mining dropped 1.8 percent, while Posco lost 1.6 percent and Hyundai Steel skidded 1.9 percent in Seoul. In Sydney, BHP Billiton lost 1.5 percent, while Rio Tinto fell 0.4 percent and BlueScope Steel slipped 1.3 percent.
Energy plays were lower after May Nymex crude fell 2.3 percent Tuesday following comments from Saudi Arabian officials suggesting that the country will try to rein in rising oil prices.
S-Oil Corp. fell 1.6 percent and SK Innovation dropped 0.9 percent in Seoul. Woodside Petroleum slid 0.7 percent in Sydney, while Inpex lost 1.6 percent in Tokyo.
David Jones tumbled 9.5 percent in Sydney after the upmarket retailer posted weak first-half results and forecast a 35 percent-40 percent on-year decline in 2012 net profit.
Kathmandu dropped 14.4 percent in Wellington after the outdoor clothing retailer posted a sharp decline in first-half net profit, citing lower gross margins and higher costs.
First Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 09:03