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Asian Markets Settle Lower On Weak Chinese Data

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Asian markets ended notably lower on Friday, hurt by data showing disappointing industrial output and retail sales growth in China in the month of November.

Worries about slowing global economic growth and skepticism about a trade deal between U.S. and China anytime soon weighed on the Asian markets as well.

The latest batch of economic data showed Chinese industrial output grew at its slowest pace in nearly three years, increasing by 5.4 percent in November after growing by 5.9 percent a month earlier.

Meanwhile, retail sales in China grew 8.1 percent in November, the weakest growth since 2003. In October, retail sales were up 8.6 percent. The slower pace of industrial output and retail sales growth was due to the impact of the ongoing trade dispute with the U.S.

In the Chinese markets, financial, materials, industries, telecommunications, energy, information technology and healthcare stocks declined.

The market breadth was very weak, with as many as 1,133 shares closing lower. Only 81 stocks made it to positive territory.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 40.31 points or 1.5 percent to 2,593.74, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 429.65 points or 1.6 percent to 26,094.79.

Japanese stocks ended lower despite a fairly decent Tankan survey report. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index plummeted 441.36 points or 2 percent to 21,374.83.

Out of the 225-stock strong Nikkei Index, just 16 stocks ended higher. 205 stocks closed lower, while 4 stocks ended flat.

Tokyo Dome ended lower by 7.7 percent, while Yahoo Japan, Tokyo Electron, Eisai and Trend Micro declined by 5 to 6 percent.

Among the gainers, Showa Denko KK, Mitsubishi Estate and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings moved up 1.5 to 1.7 percent.

The Bank of Japan said in its quarterly Tankan Survey that the index of business and manufacturing sentiment in Japan was steady in the fourth quarter of 2018. The large manufacturing index was unchanged with a score of +19, beating expectations for +18. The outlook came in at +15, shy of forecasts for +17 and down from +19 in the previous three months.

The large non-manufacturing index came in at +24, topping forecasts for +21 and up from +22. The outlook was at +20, in line with forecasts and down from +22. All industry capex is seen higher by 14.3 percent, beating forecasts for 12.8 percent and up from 13.4 percent in the three months prior.

The Australian markets ended lower, led by losses by information technology, bank and telecommunications stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended down 59.60 points or 1.1 percent at 5602.00, and the broader All Ordinaries Index ended lower by 56.50 points or 1 percent at 5678.80.

Nine Entertainment, Domain Holdings, Speedcast International, AfterPay Touch Group and A2 Milk Company shares ended lower by 4 to 9 percent.

Meanwhile, Sigma Pharmaceuticals soared more than 43 percent and Australian Pharma Industries jumped 8.5 percent. Infigen Energy shares closed stronger by 11.8 percent. GWA Group (up 5 percent) and New Hope Corporation (up 3.2 percent) were among the other notable performers in the ASX 200 index.

In the currency market, the Aussie was lower by about 0.5 percent against the U.S. dollar.

Taiwan's Taiwan Weighted Index ended lower by 0.9 percent and New Zealand's benchmark shed 0.8 percent. The South Korean market also ended notably lower, with its benchmark KOSPI declining by 1.3 percent.

In the Indian market, shares were swinging between gains and losses right from the start, with investors looking for direction after three straight days of gains. The Sensex was up 19.80 points or 0.1 percent at 35,949.44, while the Nifty50 was flat at 10,791.20.

The Indonesian market was down marginally, while markets in Singapore and Malaysia looked set for a notably lower close.

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