Asian stocks mixed over China and Japan growth worries

<p>Markets reacted to disappointing manufacturing data from Asia.</p>

Asian stocks were mixed today (March 24th) due to the ongoing effects of weak data from China and Japan's HSBC flash manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI).

The preliminary survey of China's factory sector for March fell to 49.2, marking an 11-month low, sparking concerns about the state of the world's second largest economy. Last month, the final HSBC/Markit PMI stood at 50.7. Japan's manufacturing PMI also fell to 50.4 from February's figure of 51.6.

Julian Evans-Pritchard from Capital Economics said the PMI reading was "the latest in a string of disappointing data out of China".

"Looking ahead, we expect the deceleration in growth to moderate in coming months as policymakers step up fiscal spending and carry out further cuts to the required reserve ratio and benchmark interest rates in order to prevent growth this year from slipping too far below their annual target," he said in a report seen by the BBC.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended down 0.4 per cent at 24,399.6, while Japan's Nikkei 225 closed 0.1 per cent lower at 19,734.05. The Shanghai Composite close up 0.1 per cent at 3,691.41. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 per cent to 5,969.08. South Korean shares were also up 0.2 per cent at 2,041.37.

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