Tokyo: Asian stock markets wobbled on Wednesday, while the dollar took back some ground after the latest reading on China's manufacturing activity showed activity slowed to an 11-month low in July as new orders faltered and the job market darkened.
The flash HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index for China fell to 47.7 this month from June's final reading of 48.2, marking a third straight month below the 50 threshold between expansion and contraction.
"The lower reading of the July HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI suggests a continuous slowdown in manufacturing sectors thanks to weaker new orders and faster destocking," said Hongbin Qu, chief China economist of HSBC.
"This adds more pressure on the labour market," he said.
Worries of a rapid slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy as well as expectations that the US Federal Reserve will begin to trim its massive bond-buying stimulus later this year have rattled global markets in recent weeks.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan pared earlier gains and wavered in and out of negative territory.
Japan's Nikkei share average fell 0.6 percent, giving back some of its two-day rally, after government data showed the country's export growth unexpectedly slowed in June from a year earlier. The figures were a worrying sign that China's slowing economy hurt overseas demand and could potentially threaten Japan's economic recovery.
In US trading on Tuesday, the S&P 500 snapped a four-session winning streak and retreated from Monday's record closing high, while upbeat results from United Technologies bolstered the Dow, which also touched a record intraday high.
The Australian dollar also erased its early gains against its U.S. counterpart and skidded 0.4 percent to USD 0.9260, after tame inflation data left the door open for the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates next month if it chooses.
"If the RBA thinks the economy needs a stimulus hit, these data are completely consistent with that. Our view is that growth is slowing in the economy. So we would expect the RBA to cut rates in August," said Brian Redican, a senior economist at Macquarie.
Yields on US benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 2.519 percent from their US close of 2.507 percent, though still well below a two-year high of 2.76 percent touched on July 8.
The euro slipped slightly after the China data to USD 1.3207, after rising as high as USD 1.3238 on Tuesday, its highest level since June 21.
Against the yen, the dollar took back some lost ground, rising 0.3 percent to 99.74 yen, moving away from a one-week low of 99.13 yen touched in the previous session.
The dollar index extended gains, adding 0.2 percent to 82.126, after it skidded to a one-month low of 81.926 on Tuesday. The index set a three-year high of 84.753 last week.
Commodity markets had pushed higher ahead of the China data, but those gains unravelled in its wake.
Copper dropped 0.8 percent to USD 6,982 a tonne , after earlier touching a session high of USD 7,060, its loftiest since June 18. US crude fell 0.3 percent to $106.96 a barrel.
Spot gold remained above the USD 1,300 an ounce after rallying to a one-month high on Tuesday.
First Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 09:11