Asian markets ended lower Monday with Japanese stocks slumping to a six-week low on heels of downbeat Chinese data and amid continued uncertainty over the Fed Reserve's monetary policy.
The Nikkei closed 3.7% down at 13,261.82 as investors remained concerned about two of its biggest export markets – China and the U.S.
In Australia, another major trading partner of China, the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries index lost 0.8%.
Among Chinese bourses, the Shanghai Composite finished 0.1 lower while the erased 0.6%.
Following the regional trend, Mumbai’s Sensex finished down 0.8%.
Investors continued to fret the U.S. Federal Reserve would roll back its stimulus measures in the near term following recent positive economic reports.
Meanwhile, disappointing Chinese data added to the cautious sentiment. A private survey conducted by HSBC showed industrial activity in the world's second-largest economy declined for the first time in seven months during May as a result of lower domestic and international demand. HSBC's manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to 49.2 in May from 50.4 in April.
However, official reports gave a conflicting view -- the country's official PMI climbed to a more-than-expected 50.8 in May from 50.6 in April.
In other news, data released in Australia showed retail sales increased less than expected previous month, adding a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in May after posting a decline of 0.4% in April.
Stocks on the move
Tokyo-listed financials underwent heavy selling pressure. Brokerage houses Daiwa Securities and Nomura Holding plunged 11% and 8.4% respectively while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial lost 5.6%.
Exporters were also on the slide. Top losers included Sharp Corp. (-10.3%), Sony Corp. (-5.4%) and Mazda Motor Corp. (-7.2%).
Realty firms, shipping companies and resources stocks added to the broad market losses. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. fell 7%, Fuji Heavy Industries lost 6.6% and Kawasaki Kishen K.K. erased 3.4%.
Among retailers, index heavyweight Fast Retailing pulled back over 6% while J. Front Retailing Co. Ltd. lost 4.4%.
Retail firms in Sydney were also mostly lower after lackluster retail sales data. David Jones eased 1.2%, Myer Holdings slipped 0.8% and Woolworths Ltd. gave up 0.9%.
Mining stocks pushed sharply lower after conflicting industrial activity data from China prompted investors to turn cautious. China is Australia's largest export destination and a decline in industrial demand for metals there hurts Australian miners.
Index leader BHP Billiton was down 2.3% while close-rival Rio Tinto fell 2.5%. Fortescue Metals Group lost 2.7%.
But banking firms help curtail some of these losses. NAB added around 1%,. Westpac Banking rose 2% and ANB tacked on a percent.
In Hong Kong, a few developers were in the green after reports said a group including a prominent Chinese developer had purchased a 40% stake in General Motors building in Manhattan.
Soho China Ltd. added 0.6% after the family of the company's chief executive Zhang Xin along with a group of companies completed a deal to pay more than $700 million to a Middle East-based sovereign wealth fund to acquire a stake in the GM building.
Among others, China Resources Land rose 0.9% while China Overseas Land & Investment added 0.8%
On the mainland, Gemdale Corp. moved 1.7% higher while Poly Real Estate Group improved 1%.
Some export-focused firms and casino stocks were among the rare stocks that bucked the broad market losses in Hong Kong. Li & Fung climbed 1%, Esprit Holdings notched up 1.2% while casino players SJM Holdings Ltd. and Galaxy Entertainment bounced 3.3% and 1.6% respectively.
In Mumbai, IT-services exporter Infosys found its way up on top of the gainers after the company re-appointed N R Narayana Murthy as its executive chairman to help put itself back on track to higher growth. Shares of Infosys rallied 4.4% in wake of the development.
Steel makers and some defensives also found support, but others lagged behind offsetting the gains on the 30-share benchmark index.
Telecom giant Bharti Airtel added over 1%, Dr. Reddys Lab added around a percent too, while Jindal Steel and Tata Steel moved up 2.3% and 1.6% respectively.
On the other side, Hero MotoCorp backtracked 3.7%, Bajaj Auto skidded 3.3%, Maruti Suzuki reversed 2.3% following sluggish auto sales data for May.
Among other losers, ONGC dropped around 3%, Sun Pharma erased 2.7%, HDFC pulled back 2.4% and Reliance Industries retreated 2.2%.