Asian Markets Slide Ahead of US Data

Asian markets closed lower Thursday, with investors selling ahead of key U.S. October consumer inflation data due later today. Japan, South Korea and Australia all finished lower despite trading higher throughout most of the session.

However, resource firms were in favor with copper prices climbing after an earthquake in Chile, the world's top copper producer, threatened supply. Energy firms such as Santos and Oil Search rose after a sharp rise in oil prices. Gold miners were also higher following the rebound in gold prices, with Newcrest Mining and Lihir Gold both up.

The Nikkei 225 Average succumbed to late selling and closed in negative territory as TDK Corp tumbled on a UBS downgrade and investors sold Softbank and other issues that posted sharp gains the previous session.


South Korea's KOSPI finished 1.6 percent lower, as fuel-cost sensitive stocks such as Korean Air fell on higher oil prices.

Australian shares fell more than 1 percent, ending two straight sessions of gains, as Woodside Petroleum fell after it cut its 2008 production forecast and as lingering credit market worries dented banking stocks. But Fortescue Metals leapt to a record on a major iron ore discovery, while zinc miner Zinifex jumped on takeover speculation.

Hong Kong blue chips fell 1.4 percent, a day after a strong rebound, but bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing leapt on forecast-beating earnings and subsequent broker upgrades. China plays dropped as well, as investors booked profits in Sinopec and other recent gainers.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was lower, but shares of Datacraft Asia rose as much as 3.7
percent after Southeast Asia's largest computer data network builder posted a 43 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit.

The Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.9 percent, after a 5 percent jump the previous day, on renewed worries about further monetary tightening. Investors expect the central bank to announce another interest rate hike as early as this week to curb inflation which may push down the index to test the 5,000 level.