BANGKOK -- Asian stock markets fell Wednesday following a slew of bleak U.S. corporate results, but losses were cushioned by a report suggesting China's manufacturing slump may be bottoming out.
HSBC Corp. said its monthly purchasing managers index rose to 49.1 points in October from 47.9 points on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate a contraction. The result means that China's manufacturing shrank again, but at a slower rate than the previous month.
The results raised the possibility that market losses could "stabilize and perhaps even turn around," Dariusz Kowalczyk of Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary. "This is an unusually large gain for this time of year, and the level represents a three month high."
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent to 8,985.46. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.6 percent to 1,914.55. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.2 percent lower at 21,663.57. Benchmarks in Singapore and mainland China rose.
U.S. stocks sank Tuesday after some grim corporate reports. Big-name companies like Xerox and 3M reported lower revenue for the third quarter, while chemical maker DuPont said it will have to cut jobs and other expenses to make up for weak demand. UPS, the world's largest package-delivery company, warned that the pace of global growth remains uneven.
The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 1.8 percent to 13,102.53 _ its lowest level in nearly seven weeks. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 1.4 percent to 1,413.11. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.9 percent to 2,990.46.
Benchmark oil for December delivery was up 44 cents to $87.11 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.98 to finish at $86.67 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2989 from $1.2976 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 79.84 yen from 79.91 yen.
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