The Straits Times
Published on Dec 04, 2012

Asia stocks down on US manufacturing report


BANGKOK (AP) - A weaker-than-expected US manufacturing report sent Asian stock markets down on Tuesday.

US manufacturing shrank in November to its weakest level since July 2009. The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of manufacturing conditions fell 49.5 from October's 51.7. Numbers above 50 signal growth, while those below indicate contraction.

One reason for the downturn, the trade group said, was that businesses are concerned about the so-called fiscal cliff - a package of tax increases and government spending cuts that will take effect in 2013 unless lawmakers take action. Worries about automatic tax increases cut demand for factory orders and manufacturing jobs.

"Once again, there were few tangible signs of any material progress on the fiscal cliff, the single biggest issue in markets right now and one that will influence how all asset classes trade into year-end," said Mr Cameron Peacock of IG Markets in Melbourne in a market commentary.