Asia stocks up despite global growth warnings

PAMELA SAMPSON, AP Business Writer

BANGKOK -- Asian stocks markets shrugged off yet another dismal prediction about global economic growth to mostly post solid gains Wednesday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.2 percent to 21,076.82 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4 percent to 1,990.09. Mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.6 percent to 2,109.39 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index added 1.8 percent to 864.44.

Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Australia also rose. But Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.4 percent to 8,831.31.

Stock markets gains in Asia came despite the International Monetary Fund cutting its forecast for global economic growth, just a day after the World Bank issued a warning about a slackening expansion in Asia.

Some analysts suggested that Asia still remained a bright stop and that investors should keep the big picture in mind.

"Asia has grown nearly 32 (percent) in the four years since Lehman Brothers collapsed," analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a market commentary. "That's how big Asia is today and how fast it is growing. A weak Europe will never be a plus for Asia. But it's never mattered less either."

Investors looked warily at forecasts for poor U.S. corporate earnings on Monday and decided there wasn't much reason to buy stocks. Companies in the S&P 500 index are expected to post an overall decline in profits for the first time in 11 quarters, according to FactSet.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.2 percent to close at 13,583.65. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.4 percent, to 1,455.88. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.8 percent to 3,112.35.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 90 cents to $90.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed down 55 cents to $89.33 per barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2981 from $1.2967 late Monday in New York. The dollar was nearly unchanged at 78.35 yen from 78.34 yen.