Asian stocks mixed following negative offshore leads

<p>Asian stocks were mixed following negative offshore leads. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was 0.3% lower just as the Australian market was heading into the […]</p>

Asian stocks were mixed following negative offshore leads. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was 0.3% lower just as the Australian market was heading into the final half hour of trading.

Australia’s ASX200 index was among the worst performers across the region, down around 0.9% heading into the close.

Resources and energy stocks pushed the market lower as commodity prices fell overnight.

The Australian dollar last traded at 1.0750 against the US dollar while the Euro maintained its morning levels, last trading at 1.3340 against the dollar.

The greenback slipped back below 81 against the Japanese Yen, giving away last night’s gains.

In commodities, gold posted healthy gains, rising back above US$1722/oz following yesterday’s declines. Silver firmed back above US$35/oz while copper remains flat at US3.87/lb.

Regional economic news was dominated by China’s PMI which showed a better than expected reading. Manufacturing gained for a third straight month in February, signaling that China – the world’s second largest economy – is maintaining a gradual recovery amid Europe’s debt crisis and a cooling domestic property market. The PMI rose to 51.0 from 50.5 in January, China’s statistics bureau and logistics federation said.

Elsewhere, China’s largest real estate website operator SouFun Holdings said China’s February home prices posted the biggest decline in 19 months as the government pledged to maintain curbs on property.

Next week’s inflationary data will be a key catalyst for the market, signaling the immediacy of any further stimulus from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

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