Asian stocks mostly lower as investors digest US, Japan data

Asian stocks were mostly lower on Thursday, wiping out early gains after strong factory data from the U.S. lifted shares on Wall Street. Tokyo stocks were the only bright spot as investors shrugged off a report showing weak machinery orders a day after growth data came in lower than expected.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index finished 0.5 percent higher at 22,838.37 but the rest of the region was mostly in the red. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent at 30,942.15 and the Kospi in South Korea closed 0.5 percent lower at 2,448.45. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 dipped 0.2 percent to 6,094.30 and the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.5 percent to 3,154.28. Shares were mixed in Southeast Asia.

MIXED ECONOMIC REPORTS: The Federal Reserve said factory output rose 0.5 percent in April after a flat reading in March while a broader measure of industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, rose 0.7 percent. The figures suggest that business spending may be picking up after lagging earlier this year. Investors shrugged off data showing Japan’s machinery orders fell nearly 4 percent in March from the month before, as analysts said demand for equipment remains strong due to tight capacity levels.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock markets finished higher on Wednesday, led by tech and heath care stocks. The S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 2,722.46. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.3 percent to 24,768.93. The Nasdaq composite added 0.6 percent to 7,398.30. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks finished 1 percent higher at 1,616.37.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 27 cents to $71.76 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, it finished at $71.49 a barrel, up 18 cents. Brent crude, used to price international oil, gained 31 cents to $79.59 per barrel in London. It rose 85 cents to close at $79.28 a barrel in the previous session.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.73 yen from 110.39 yen while the euro strengthened to $1.1814 from $1.1809.