Asian markets fell Thursday as investor confidence was weighed down by the report that Japan's trade deficit increased in August, raising more concerns about the faltering global economy.

 

China’s Shanghai Composite fell 0.55 percent or 11.43 points to 2056.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.35 percent or 72.63 points to 20769.28. Among major losers were Sands China Ltd (1.03 percent) and PetroChina Co Ltd (0.98 percent).

 

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was down 0.47 percent or 43.36 points to 9188.85. Among major losers were JTEKT Corp (3.16 percent), Sony Corp (2.75 percent) and Minebea Co Ltd (2.60 percent).

 

South Korea's KOSPI Composite Index fell 0.41 percent or 8.14 points to 1999.74. Shares of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd declined 1.52 percent and those of Hyundai Motor Co dropped 1.23 percent.

 

India's BSE Sensex dropped 0.66 percent or 122.03 points to 18373.88. Among the major losers were Tata Motors Ltd (2.21 percent), Jaiprakash Associates (2.19 percent) and SBI (1.97 percent).

 

Market sentiment turned negative as Japan reported Thursday a rise in trade deficit in August compared to the previous month with a decrease in both exports and imports. The Finance Ministry data showed that the country recorded 754.1 billion yen ($9.62 billion) trade deficit in August, up from 517.4 billion yen deficit in July.

 

Exports dropped 5.8 percent to 5.05 trillion yen from a year earlier, indicating the soft global demand. Imports fell 5.4 percent to 5.8 trillion yen showing the weak domestic demand.

 

There was a slump of 22.9 percent in exports to the European Union compared to the previous year. While exports to China dropped 9.9 percent, exports to the U.S. rose 10.3 percent. The continuing debt crisis in Europe and the strength of the Japanese yen have hurt the demand for exports, the key driver of Japan's economy.

 

Japan's economic growth slowed down in the April-June quarter compared to the first three months of the year, indicating that the country is losing growth momentum. Japan's economy grew at 0.3 percent in the second quarter down from 1.2 percent in the first three months of the year.

 

On Wednesday, the Bank of Japan announced stimulus measures in an attempt to rejuvenate the country’s economy. The BoJ said that it was increasing the size of its asset purchases by 10 trillion yen ($127 billion) to 80 trillion yen. Meanwhile, the central bank left the policy interest rate in the current range of zero to 0.1 percent.