Asian markets lackluster after softer China data

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By YOUKYUNG LEE
AP Business Writer

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Asian stocks were little changed on Thursday after data showed retail sales and industrial output growth slowed in China.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was up less than 0.1 percent to 19,873.62 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 percent to 2,361.31. China's Shanghai Composite Index lost less than 0.1 percent to 3,382.00 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.3 percent to 27,816.83. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.3 percent to 5,730.10. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mixed.

CHINA: China's National Bureau of Statistics said the world's second-largest economy saw 6 percent annual growth in its industrial output in August, slower than 6.4 percent growth in July, according to Xinhua News Agency. Retail sales expanded 10.1 percent on year in August, compared with 10.4 percent in July, it said. The data suggested that China's economy continued to cool.

DATA WATCH: Investors are also waiting for the latest updates on the U.S. economy before the Federal Reserve meeting due next week. The U.S. Labor Department is scheduled to release reports on consumer price for August and the number of people who applied for unemployment benefit last week.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock indexes finished with tiny gains Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 0.1 percent to 2,498.37. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 0.2 percent to 22,158.18. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 percent to 6,460.19. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.2 percent to 1,426.89.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 7 cents to $49.23 per barrel in New York. The contract rose $1.07, or 2.2 percent, to close at $49.30 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 15 cents to $55.01 per barrel in London. It added 89 cents, or 1.6 percent, to finish at $55.16 a barrel in the previous session.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.47 yen from 110.49 yen. The euro fell to $1.1879 from $1.1884.

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