Asian stocks lower as bin Laden euphoria fades

HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stock markets fell Tuesday as euphoria faded over news the day before of the death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and investors turned their attention back to earnings and economic reports.

“Investors are more concerned with the fundamentals that affect the stock market,” said Francis Lun, an independent stock market commentator.

“The killing of bin Laden has only a temporary effect,” he added.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.7 percent at 4,789.40 even after a widely expected decision by the central bank to hold interest rates steady.

Shares of ANZ Banking Group Ltd., one of Australia’s four dominant lenders, fell 1.2 percent after it posted a 38 percent rise in first half profit that was less than analysts expected.

South Korea’s Kospi tumbled 1.7 percent to 2,192.29. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also fell.

South Korean stocks fell even as Korean Air, the country’s top airline, reported that first quarter profit jumped by half over the year before on higher sales and foreign currency gains.

Bucking the trend, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent to 23,764.60 while China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.2 percent to 2,916.84. Both markets had been closed Monday for a holiday.

Investors were reacting favorably to a manufacturing survey released on Sunday that indicated that government efforts to cool China’s economy may be having some effect, said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities. He said they were also cheered that the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, didn’t hike interest rates again over the holiday weekend, as many had expected.

The decline in the purchasing managers index “actually shows the economy in mainland China is not as hot as people think so maybe it’s the reason why the PBOC delayed the interest rate hike again,” said Yip.

Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday.

In New York on Monday, stocks finished slightly lower despite bin Laden’s death, several strong earnings reports and a major drug industry acquisition.

The Dow Jones industrial average industrial average fell 3.18 points to close at 12,807.36. The S&P 500 index fell 2.39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,361.22. The Nasdaq composite fell 9.46 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,864.08.

In currencies, the greenback fell to 81.02 yen from 81.25 yen. The euro, meanwhile, was weaker at $1.4811 from $1.4846 late Monday in New York.

Benchmark oil for June delivery fell 50 cents to $113.02 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 41 cents to settle at $113.52 on Monday.

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