Asia stocks mostly down, Japan gains on GDP report

In this Nov. 11, 2010 photo, specialist Glenn Carell, right, works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly lower Monday, shrugging off stronger-than-expected growth in Japan amid fears China will take new steps to cool its economy.

The Nikkei 225 stock average rose 82.68 points, or 0.9 percent, to 9,807.86 as the yen weakened and after the government said the economy expanded an annualized 3.9 percent in the July-September quarter.

Stronger spending by consumers and businesses fueled the better-than-expected result but the improvement is expected to be fleeting with some analysts forecasting a contraction in the last quarter of the year as exports slow.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.7 percent at 2,964.15 after tumbling more than 5 percent Friday on expectations Beijing will raise interest rates again after inflation reached a 25-month high. The feared interest rate hike didn’t happen over the weekend but investors remained on edge.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.7 percent to 24,059.66, South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 percent to 1,911.50 and Australia’s SP/ASX 200 dropped 0.1 percent to 4,688.00.

Markets in India, Taiwan, Indonesia and Singapore were also down while New Zealand and the Philippines gained.

In New York on Friday, the Dow Jones industrials lost 1 percent to close at 11,193 on worries that China might take new steps to cool its economy. Any slowdown in the Chinese economy would likely reduce demand for oil, metals and grains, which sent prices of those commodities lower.

Such concerns kept sentiment muted across Asia, as did jitters over European debt. All last week, investors dumped Irish and Portuguese bonds, heightening speculation that the countries might soon have to follow Greece in seeking an European Union bailout.

The sell-off puts added pressure on EU finance ministers, who will debate what to do about Ireland’s woes when they meet in Brussels Tuesday and Wednesday, with Dublin denying it will ask for help from a temporary stabilization fund set up by its partners in the euro.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 82.69 yen from 82.51 yen late Friday in New York. The euro fell to $1.3680 from $1.3689.

Benchmark oil for December delivery was up 12 cents at $85.02 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $2.93, or 3.3 percent, to settle at $84.88 on Friday.

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