By PAMELA SAMPSONAP Business Writer
BANGKOK (AP) - Asian stock markets fell Tuesday after China's manufacturing growth slowed in April, adding to worries about the health of the world's second-largest economy.
A preliminary survey by HSBC Corp. said its monthly purchasing managers' index fell to a worse-than-expected 50.5 from March's 51.6 on a 100-point scale. That comes on top of data released last week that showed an unexpected slowdown in China's first-quarter economic growth.
"It builds on that picture last week and fears of a moderating growth scenario in China," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. "That set a negative tone."
Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.2 percent to 21,773.72. Mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 2.1 percent to 2,194.12. The Shenzhen Composite Index lost 2.2 percent to 928.24.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei index slipped as the yen gained ground against the dollar. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 0.1 percent to 13,548.76. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also fell. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to 5,010.20.
European stocks rose Monday in response to the re-election Saturday of Giorgio Napolitano as president of recession-mired Italy. He can now dissolve Parliament and call new elections, something he could not do in the final months of his first term. The country has been hobbled by political gridlock after inconclusive elections in February.
However, Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets in London, suggested in a commentary that Napolitano's selection by parliament reflected Italy's political chaos and the inability of its lawmakers to agree on a candidate apart from the incumbent who was planning to retire.
"Despite the optimism the inescapable fact remains that it is a sad state of affairs when an 87 year old man has to stand for re-election in an attempt to try and move the country forward."
Among individual stocks, Australia's Woodside Petroleum shot up 9.6 percent after the oil and gas company announced a special dividend and increased its dividend payout ratio after cutting a major LNG project.
Virgin Australia Holdings jumped 4.6 percent after the airline received approval from Australia's competition regulator for a takeover of budget rival Tiger Airways.
Wall Street posted modest advances Monday after energy stocks got a lift from recovering oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.1 percent to close at 14,567.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.5 percent, to 1,562.50. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.9 percent, to 3,233.55.
Investors are now turning their focus to company profits. About a third of the companies in the S&P 500 index, including Exxon Mobil and Apple, will report earnings this week. Of the companies that have reported earnings so far, 67 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations..
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 51 cents to $88.68 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract for May gained 75 cents to close at $88.76 on the Nymex on Monday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3043 from $1.3060 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 98.78 yen from 99.42 yen.
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