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Asia stocks slip on poor data from US and China

HONG KONG -- Asian stocks slumped Friday after reports showed weak U.S. consumer spending and slowing Chinese industrial profit growth, casting doubts on whether the world's two biggest economies can rebound.

European stocks were higher in early trading as investors dealt with data being released all day. France's CAC 40 rose 4,458.48 while Germany's DAX advanced 0.3 percent to 9,828.69. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies rose 0.2 percent to 6,750.55.

U.S. stocks were poised to open lower ahead of the release of the widely watched University of Michigan consumer confidence index for June. Dow futures eased 0.1 percent to 16,750.00 while broader S&P 500 futures slipped 0.1 percent to 1,946.60.

Asian stocks reacted poorly after U.S. consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, inched up in May at half the rate that economists had predicted. The poor reading disappointed investors who had been looking for stronger signs that the U.S. economy is bouncing back after shrinking 2.9 percent in the first quarter. Many had been predicting the contraction was a blip because of a harsh winter.

“The whole world is looking for a big (U.S.) GDP rebound in the second quarter. The whole world is likely to be disappointed,” economists at Singaporean bank DBS said in a research report.

Adding to the pessimism, Chinese industrial profits grew 8.9 percent in May, the slowest rate this year, a sign that the No. 2 economy continues to struggle with an extended slowdown.

In Asian markets, Tokyo tumbled 1.39 percent, or 213.49 points, to 15,095.00 as the strong yen hit exporters, Sydney fell 0.35 percent, or 19.2 points, to close at 5,445.1 and Seoul slipped 0.33 percent, or 6.54 points, to 1,988.51.

Shanghai closed 0.11 percent lower, giving up 2.17 points to 2,036.51 but Hong Kong reversed earlier losses to finish 0.10 percent higher, adding 23.69 points to 23,221.52.

Gold fetched US$1,315.46 an ounce at 1120 GMT compared with US$1,312.60 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

— Bangkok added 0.39 percent or 5.76 points to close at 1,483.24.

Bank of Ayudhya gained 7.43 percent to 47.00 baht, while coal producer Banpu rose 1.72 percent to 29.50 baht.

— Jakarta slipped 0.56 percent, or 27.29 points, to 4,845.13.

Palm oil producer Astra Agro Lestari fell 2.05 percent to 28,700 rupiah, while car maker Astra International gained 1.73 percent to 7,350 rupiah.

— Kuala Lumpur fell 0.48 percent, or 9.04 points, to 1,880.93.

Public Bank lost 1.5 percent to 19.60 ringgit, while Axiata Group shed 0.1 percent to 6.97. Planation giant Sime Darby rose 0.1 percent to 9.67 ringgit.

— Manila closed 0.73 percent lower, easing 50.03 points to 6,842.15.

Ayala Land slipped 1.75 percent to 30.85 pesos, SM Prime Holdings was 2.9 percent lower at 15.92 pesos and SM Investments fell 2.46 percent to 811.50 pesos.

— Mumbai rose 0.15 percent or 37.25 points to 25,099.92.

Outsourcing giant Infosys gained 1.02 percent to 3,221.95 rupees while rival Wipro closed up 1.9 percent to 545.85 rupees.

— Singapore rose 0.23 percent, or 7.52 points, to 3,271.05.

Oil rig maker Keppel Corp gained 0.19 percent to SG$10.81 while DBS Bank eased 0.30 percent to SG$16.81.

— Wellington added 0.27 percent, or 14.09 points, to 5,144.25 but trading was curtailed by a technical glitch.

Telecom was up 0.93 percent at NZ$2.72 and Freightways was unchanged on NZ$5.11.

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