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Market Update

Asian Stocks Drop After Data

Asian markets drifted into the negative zone Thursday after a preliminary reading of China's manufacturing activity showed contraction.

The flash reading of HSBC/Markit China manufacturing purchasing managers' index declined to a six-month low of 49.6, down from a final print of 50.5 in December -- marking the economy's first contraction in six months. Analysts were expecting the reading to come in at 50.3. ( A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion and vice versa.)