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Asian markets mixed after Wall Street takes a beating

HONG KONG--Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday as the effect of big Wall Street losses sparked by weak reports and forecasts from top U.S. companies was offset by an improvement in Chinese manufacturing.

However, selling was also given impetus by concerns over Spain as well as profit-taking after an impressive run by global markets in recent weeks following easing measures in the United States, Japan and Europe.

Tokyo closed 0.67 percent lower, shedding 59.95 points to 8,954.30, Seoul fell 0.67 percent, or 12.85 points, to 1,913.96 and Sydney ended down 0.82 percent, or 37.3 points, at 4,505.8.

Hong Kong ended 0.31 percent higher, adding 66.23 points to 21,763.78 while Shanghai edged up 0.07 percent, or 1.54 points, to 2,115.99.

Investors took fright at big falls in New York after poor earnings figures and guidance from DuPont, United Technologies, UPS, Xerox, Radio Shack and 3M suggested that the U.S. corporate earnings boom is stalling.

U.S. shares tumbled. The Dow lost 1.82 percent, the S&P 500 sank 1.44 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.88 percent.

In Europe, the Bank of Spain forecast the economy would contract 0.4 percent in the third quarter. If confirmed, the figures would mean the recession, which has left one in four workers unemployed, is moving into a second year.

Moody's cut its debt rating for five Spanish regions by one or two notches each, blaming their weak financial positions and looming debt redemptions.

But data out of Beijing Wednesday indicated China's manufacturing sector was showing signs of recovery. The HSBC Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) hit 49.1 this month, the highest level in three months and up from 47.9 in September. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

While the figures mark the 12th-straight month of contraction, they also represent the second-consecutive monthly improvement and add to recent indications the economy is on the mend after a slowdown.

However, Qu Hongbin, HSBC's chief economist for China, warned that problems in overseas economies including Europe and the United States, as well as China's job market, continue to pressure the economy.

“This calls for a continuation of policy easing in the coming months to secure a firmer growth recovery,” he said in a statement.

Gold was at US$1,708.50 at 1015 GMT compared with US$1,710.66 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

— Manila closed 0.62 percent lower, shedding 33.63 points to 5,398.69.

SM Investments dropped 1.57 percent to 816.50 pesos while Ayala Corp. fell 0.14 percent to 433 pesos.

— Wellington closed flat, edging down 2.81 points to 4,001.45.

Telecom rose 0.2 percent to NZ$2.48 and Contact Energy was up 1.9 percent at NZ$5.51.

— Singapore closed down 0.20 percent, or 6.20 points, at 3,044.73.

City Developments shed 1.04 percent to SG$11.45 and United Overseas Bank slid 0.65 percent to SG$18.40.

— Kuala Lumpur rose 0.19 percent, or 3.09 points, to 1,664.90.

UEM Land Holdings added 11.4 percent to 2.15 ringgit while RHB Capital gained 1.8 percent to 7.46. AirAsia Bhd lost 1.6 percent to close at 3.04 ringgit.

— Bangkok fell 1.18 percent, or 15.42 points, to 1,295.00.

Mobile telephone giant Advanced Info Service lost 4.25 percent to 203.00 baht, while Bangkok Bank slipped 3.26 percent to 178.00 baht.

— Jakarta closed up 0.12 percent, or 5.23 points, at 4,335.38.

Synthetic fiber manufacturer Asia Pacific Fiber rose 2.33 percent to 220 rupiah, state-controlled miner Aneka Tambang climbed 1.57 percent to 1,290 rupiah and cigarette firm Gudang Garam was down 0.99 percent at 50,050 rupiah.

— Mumbai was closed for a public holiday.

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