Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday after data showed that Chinese services sector grew at a slower pace in September than expected.
Japanese benchmark Nikkei declined 0.45 percent or 39.18 points to 8746.87 and Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 0.36 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.23 percent or 47.90 points to 20888.28 and India's BSE Sensex were trading flat.
China's non-manufacturing sector growth declined in September to the slowest pace in nearly two years, raising the concerns about the slowdown in Asia's largest economy.
Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 53.7 in September from 56.3 in August. The index continues to remain in the area of expansion since the reading is above 50, but a fall in the reading would increase fears of the likelihood of a sharp slowdown in the economy.
The data came just two days after an official report showed that Chinese manufacturing activity shrank for the second straight month in September. However, expectation of a further easing measure from the Chinese central bank to rejuvenate the economic growth momentum in the world’s second largest economy continued to provide support.
Meanwhile, market sentiment was also affected by the ongoing uncertainty about when Spain would formally request a bailout -- a necessary condition to trigger the European Central Bank’s bond-buying program. Hopes faded after Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy indicated a bailout request was not imminent. However, some media reports suggest that the debt ridden country could formally request the bailout funds as early as this weekend.
“Already this week disappointment from manufacturing surveys in China and Europe has put a dampener on sentiment and the news from Spain added further pain to markets. While an improvement in the US ISM manufacturing survey in September helped to counter balance some of this negative sentiment,” said a note from Credit Agricole.
Among the stocks, Honda Motor Co Ltd. fell 1.05 percent and Canon Inc. declined 1.88 percent while Fast Retailing Co Ltd. surged 3.71 percent in Tokyo.
In Hong Kong, Esprit Holdings Ltd. gained 2.52 percent and China Citic Bank Corp Ltd. advanced 1.63 percent while Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. fell 2.36 percent and Anta Sports Products Ltd. slipped 2.35 percent.