Asian markets mostly lower after Presidents Day

Asian markets mostly lower after Presidents Day

TOKYO AP -- Asian shares were mostly lower Tuesday after U.S markets closed for Presidents Day.

Shares dropped in Tokyo, Sydney and Hong Kong but rose slightly in Seoul and Shanghai. U.S. futures and oil prices declined.

As companies deal with rising energy and raw material costs and consumers hold back on spending, analysts say that the weakening demand persists in Asia.

In Japan, a preliminary manufacturing indicator, the flash purchasing manager's index, fell to 47.4 in February from 48.9 the month before. That was the weakest reading in more than two years.

The Judo Bank PMI, released in Australia, shows private sector activity is in a contraction for the fifth month in a row. Although exports rebounded with help from China after it dropped COVID-related restrictions, the sector showed little positive momentum. In Australia, unemployment has gone up.

Clifford Bennett, chief economist at ACY Securities, said in a commentary that the Australian economy's distortions are extreme and point only to the recession.

The Tokyo benchmark, the Nikkei 225, fell by 0.2% to 27,464. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.2% to 7,336. South Korea's Kospi increased by nearly 0.2% to 2,458. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.6% to 20,561. 77, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.1% to 3,294. As companies cope with rising energy and raw material costs and consumers hold back on spending, analysts said that there is a chance of slowing growth and weakening demand.

Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management said that regional weakness was a reflection of skepticism about the strength of China's recovery, based on the recent underperformance of Chinese equities.

It was not clear whether the rules on overseas initial public offerings by Chinese companies had any significant impact on trading.

China cleared the way for more companies to join foreign stock exchanges, but issued rules that could make the stock offering process more time-consuming by requiring stricter regulatory scrutiny in advance.

This week will bring updates on U.S. manufacturing and housing, as well as minutes from the last meeting of the Federal Reserve that might give insight into the outlook for inflation and interest rates.

On Friday, the S&P fell 0.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.4%. The Nasdaq composite fell by 0.6%.

The U.S. crude fell 4 cents to $76.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The U.S. dollar was up to 134.38 Japanese yen from 134.26 yen in currency trading. The euro was down from $1.0689 to $1.0676 at the beginning of the day.