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Asia Ends Down, Nikkei Hits 16-Month Closing Low

CNBC Asia Pacific
Tuesday, 31 Aug 2010 | 7:10 AM ET

This is a transcript of top stories presented by China's CCTV Business Channel as produced by CNBC Asia Pacific.

Hello to our viewers all over China.

You're watching “Asia Market Daily”, co-produced by CCTV Business Channel and CNBC, first in business worldwide.

I am Saijal Patel and here are the top stories across Asia today.

Stocks in the region were mostly lower this Tuesday, as worries about a flagging U.S. economy triggered profit-taking in the region.

In Japan the benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 3 percent to their worst daily-drop in three months.

Market players noted disappointment after the BOJ expanded its fund supply tool, which was widely seen as an ineffective move.

Meantime in South Korea the KOSPI finished down 1 percent. Banks and techs led the losses there.

But Hyundai Department gained on the strong IPO pricing of Hyundai Home-shopping, in which it is the majority shareholder.

Australian shares retreated 1.1 percent.

Stronger-than-expected retail sales and building data helped lift the market off its lows briefly, but retailers soon lost their gains.

Top miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell 2.2 percent and 1.3 percent respectively, with copper prices slipping on worries about high U.S. unemployment crimping economic growth.

Property shares slid in Shanghai.

That's after the state-run People's Daily said that Beijing should stick to its property tightening-policy, and consider taking further steps if existing measures don't work.

Meantime in Hong Kong, Foxconn International plunged after disappointing first-half results.

The world's largest contract cellphone maker slipped into the red, hit by falling handset prices and higher costs.

Japanese manufacturing activity in August expanded at its slowest pace in more than a year. That's according to a survey conducted by the government. It expects output to have risen just 1.6 percent this month. An earlier forecast called for a 2 percent gain.

But some analysts, such as Martin Schultz of Fujitsu Research Institute, says that despite the slowing pace of recovery, the economy is not entirely worsening.

(SOT) Martin Schultz, Fujitsu Research Institute:

"Actually the mood in Japan is not as bad as you expect, production is still comparatively strong, what we have is a flat domestic economy, but overseas exports and demand is still quite strong, Asia seems to be leveling off but the US and Europe in demand is stronger and this keeps the corporation happy so far, as long as it's about production, and not about earnings.”

For July, industrial output edged-up to 0.3 percent. A Reuters forecast had expected a fall of 0.2 percent.

Meantime over in South Korea, manufacturing business-confidence for September hit a four-month low.

But the central bank's data showed that majority was still optimistic, suggesting the economy would remain on a recovery track.

The Bank of Korea's manufacturing business survey-index fell to a seasonally-adjusted 101, after touching a record high of 109 in August.

Separate government-data showed industrial production grew more-than-expected in July, indicating that the economy was maintaining solid growth.

Analysts say that this relatively positive set of figures reinforces their views that the central bank would raise interest rates as early as next week.

Interest rates were raised in July from a record low of 2 percent for the first time since the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

India's economy grew at its fastest clip in nearly three years in the fourth quarter through June.

The economy expanded 8.8 percent, versus the previous quarter's 8.6 percent.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an annual rise of 8.7 percent.

The growth came from strong manufacturing growth and farm output.

Analysts, such as PK Basu of Daiwa Capital Markets, say this may keep the central bank on its path of policy-tightening.

(SOT) PK Basu, MD & Chief Economist, Daiwa Capital Markets:

“I think we're going to see a 25-basis-point hike on September 16th. And a further 25 basis-points on October 30th. I'm somewhat bearish about India now. I think that the economy is clearly overheating. We've had 9 months of negative real interest rates. That's the first time that real interest rates have been negative for 10 years.”

Meantime — U.S. President Barack Obama fires some ammunition to boost the flagging U.S. economy.

(SOT) Barack Obama, U.S. President:

"My economic team is hard at work in identifying additional measures that could make a difference in promoting growth and hiring in the short term and increasing our economy's competitiveness in the long term.”

Obama said possible steps include extending tax-cuts for the middle class that are due to expire this year, increasing government support for clean energy, and rebuilding more infrastructure.

The U.S. president is under intense election-year pressure to bolster the economy and generate job growth.

The announcement comes ahead of a crucial jobs report due on Friday.

According to a Reuters survey, non-farm payrolls fell 100-thousand this month after shrinking 131,000 in July.

Obama is scheduled to address the U.S. nation tomorrow.

Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman told CNBC overnight that the U.S. economy needs another government stimulus program as big as the one President Obama pushed through Congress in February 2009.

(SOT) Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Princeton University:

“Everything is pointing to the need for more spending. The economy remains depressed the stimulus is fading out - the maximum impact on growth was last quarter of 2009. It’s actually going negative at the moment as some of the spending ramps down, and the economy clearly has not gotten over this crisis.”

Well, that wraps up today's business highlights.

I'm Saijal Patel from CNBC.

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