By PAMELA SAMPSONAP Business Writer
BANGKOK (AP) - Asian stock markets fell Wednesday in holiday-thinned trading after the pace of China's manufacturing growth slowed in April, raising fears of a weaker recovery in the world's second-largest economy.
The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers' index fell to 50.6 in April from 50.9 in March on a 100-point scale on which readings above 50 indicate an expansion.
The industry group quoted economist Zhang Lijun as saying that steadily declining export orders and other indicators portend a slight future decline in economic growth.
Analysts said the data slightly undershot expectations. Most had been expecting a reading of 50.7.
"Although conditions in Asia's industrial sector have improved, they still remain weak by historic standards," said Daniel Martin of Capital Economics in Singapore.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2 percent 13,832.87 as the yen gained strength against the dollar. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,170.20 as investors took profits off the table after the market hit a five-year high Tuesday.
Many stock markets were closed for May Day holidays, including those in Hong Kong, mainland China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.
U.S. stocks finished modestly higher Tuesday, giving the Standard & Poor's 500 index another record close and its sixth straight month of gains.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 21.05 points, or 0.1 percent, to 14,839.80. The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to 1,597.57. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.7 percent to 3,328.79.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 48 cents to $92.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.04 to finish at $93.46 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3165 from $1.3158 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 97.31 yen from 97.51 yen.
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