BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets mostly fell Wednesday after four days of gains as China's manufacturing slowed despite government stimulus efforts. European shares rose.
Global markets have been buoyant since last Thursday on hopes that policymakers will back powerful new measures to battle Europe's debt crisis after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi vowed to do what it takes to keep the euro currency union intact.
But sentiment in Asia took a hit after an expected improvement in China's manufacturing failed to materialize. Doubts have also grown about whether the ECB's bold talk will translate into definitive action. As so often before in the debt crisis, the risk is that Europe's leaders overpromise and under-deliver.
The U.S. Federal Reserve finishes a two-day meeting Wednesday. Hopes it will announce new stimulus for the world's No. 1 economy have waxed and waned. The ECB meets Thursday.
"A bit of doubt is starting to creep in after the monster rally we have seen over the past week," said IG Markets strategist Stan Shamu in a commentary. "Concerns over how aggressive the ECB will be in backing Mario Draghi's pledge to save the euro seem to be keeping some investors at bay ahead of the ECB meeting."
China's manufacturing remained weak in July, according to surveys released Wednesday, and analysts said weakening export demand pointed to the need for more efforts to revive growth in the world's second-biggest economy.
The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers' index, or PMI, fell 0.1 percentage point to 50.1 in July, the slowest growth in eight months and just above the 50 level signifying expansion.
Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average closed down 0.6 percent at 8,641.85 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to 19,820.38. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2 percent to 4,262.80. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.1 percent to 1,879.93. Markets in Indonesia and India also fell while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.9 percent to 2,123.36.
In morning European trade, France's CAC 40 climbed 0.3 percent to 3,302.75 and Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 6,785.56. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.6 percent at 5,670.29. Wall Street was poised to gain with Dow futures up 0.3 percent and S&P 500 futures higher by 0.2 percent.
In energy trading, benchmark crude for September delivery was up 11 cents at $88.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude lost $1.72 to settle at $88.06 in New York on Tuesday.
The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.231. The dollar pared losses to be little changed at 78.12 yen.
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