Asian shares capped by China PMI slip, US budget worry

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Asian shares were capped on Friday, with sentiment dented by lacklustre manufacturing data from China. (Reuters) Asian shares were capped on Friday, with sentiment dented by lacklustre manufacturing data from China. (Reuters)
SummaryAsian shares were capped on Friday, with sentiment dented by lacklustre manufacturing data from China.

Asian shares were capped on Friday, with sentiment dented by lacklustre manufacturing data from China and worries over the economic fallout from Italy's political confusion as well as possible U.S. spending cuts.

European markets are seen narrowly mixed, with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX would open between a 0.1 percent rise and a 0.2 percent fall. Italy's main FTSE MIB stock market index is expected to open down 0.2 percent.

A 0.1 percent drop in U.S. stock futures also hinted at a weak Wall Street start.

But losses were limited by renewed confidence that major central banks will keep taking stimulative steps to support their economies.

China's factory growth cooled in February to multi-month lows after domestic demand dipped to weigh on firms already hit by slack foreign sales, two surveys showed on Friday, underlining the country's patchy economic recovery. But it does not signal China's economy is slipping into another slowdown, analysts said.

China's February official purchasing managers' index (PMI) came in at 50.1, slightly below a 50.2 Reuters poll consensus and the 50.4 posted in January. A private survey showed the final HSBC PMI fell to 50.4 after seasonal adjustments from January's two-year high of 52.3, in line with a flash reading.

"While comfort can be sought from the fact that the Chinese economy remains in expansion territory, the dip from prior PMI readings does illustrate that the recovery is far from linear and that there are still a few bumps in the road," said Tim Waterer, senior trader at Sydney-based CMC Markets.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.1 percent, after ending February up 0.5 percent, showing muted reaction to Chinese data.

Australian shares slipped 0.4 percent, pulling back from 4-1/2-year highs touched in the previous session, as big miners lost ground on lower metal prices. South Korean markets were closed on Friday for a public holiday.

The Australian dollar, which is sensitive to data from China, Australia's largest trading partner, was up 0.2 percent to $1.0230.

Japan's Nikkei stock average erased earlier losses to rise 0.5 percent, lifted by expectations for strong reflationary measures

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