HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Asia shares ended lower Monday, with commodity-related firms weighing on markets that were nonetheless trading off their worst levels of the session.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.89% lost 0.5%, while South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.07% edged up 0.1% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.19% /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.19% declined 0.5%.
/zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.19% Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.46% slipped 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 +0.26% managed to reverse an early decline and move off a fresh multiyear low to trade up 0.3%.
The Asia Dow was down 0.3%.
S&P pares Asia outlook
Standard & Poor’s on Monday downgraded its 2012 economic outlook for the Asia Pacific region, citing the slowdown in China, troubles in the euro zone and a weaker economic recovery in the U.S.
China’s GDP growth outlook was cut to 7.5% from 8%, while Japan’s forecast was lowered to 2%, South Korea’s cut to 2.5%, and Singapore’s trimmed to 2.1%, the credit-rating firm said in a statement.
“Our lower forecast for China recognizes that the central government had elected not to inject an economic stimulus of a size and speed necessary for an 8% growth rate,” S&P credit analyst Andrew Palmer said in the statement.
Investors were given further cause for unease after Japan’s prime minister warned Beijing that anti-Japanese protests in China could further hurt the Chinese economy.
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The protests are related to a dispute between China and Japan over ownership of a group of islands known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.
“News flow over the weekend at the margin is negative,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets, citing “further rhetoric from a People’s Bank of China adviser that China’s economic slowdown may persist into 2013.” See: China central bank adviser sees no signs of rebound yet.
Steel and other metals
Japanese steel makers, sensitive to the outlook in China, lost ground Monday, with JFE Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204336633/delayed JP:5411 -2.90% /zigman2/quotes/203557603/delayed JFEEF -4.06% , down 4.9%, Kobe Steel Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/207391157/delayed JP:5406 -3.16% falling 2.9%, and Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. retreating 4% in Tokyo.
Metals stocks were also weaker elsewhere in the region, as South Korean steel major Posco /zigman2/quotes/201759282/delayed KR:005490 -0.46% /zigman2/quotes/209201002/composite PKX +0.31% fell 1.1% and Korea Zinc Co. /zigman2/quotes/202765860/delayed KR:010130 +5.49% lost 1.1%.
In Australia, metal extractor Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.36% /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO +0.71% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -0.15% dropped 2% while Aquarius Platinum Ltd. declined 2.9% as platinum futures fell. Read more on metal market action
Energy firms were also lower, as commodity futures came under broad selling pressure Monday amid some strength in the U.S. dollar. PetroChina Co. /zigman2/quotes/204979431/delayed HK:857 0.00% /zigman2/quotes/205108732/composite PTR +0.38% was lower by 0.4%. Read more on energy futures.