Asian stock markets tumble after Chinese industrial figures disappoint



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BEIJING — Asian stocks tumbled Monday on weak Chinese economic data as investors looked ahead to a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting and Scotland's independence referendum.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng sank 0.8 percent to 24,392.86 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 percent to 5,496.20. China's Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.3 percent to 2,326.06. Singapore, Seoul, Jakarta and Taipei also fell. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

CHINESE SLOWDOWN: Weak data released on the weekend fueled concern China's economic slowdown is deepening. Industrial production in August grew at its slowest rate since the 2008-09 global financial crisis. Investment in infrastructure and manufacturing also slowed. Data reported earlier showed credit growing more slowly than forecast. Royal Bank of Scotland trimmed its growth forecast for China this year from 7.2 percent to 7.1 percent.

THE QUOTE: "The Chinese data pack for August was a major disappointment. Growth momentum suffered a further, significant deceleration. Capital spending was hit particularly hard, mostly due to a deepening downturn in real estate. Largely as a result, industrial output slowed unusually sharply," said Credit Acrigole CIB in a report.

FED MEETING: Members of the Fed's board are due to meet Tuesday and Wednesday and investors will be watching for any change in their guidance about the future direction for interest rates. Analysts have warned over the past week that the Fed might raise interest rates sooner than expected but say such a change still could be some way off.

US GROWTH: Industrial production data for August due out Monday were expected to show growth of 0.3 percent over the previous month, compared with July's 0.4 percent expansion.

SCOTLAND'S REFERENDUM: Scots vote Thursday on whether to leave the United Kingdom, and investors were on edge about the possible impact on the British pound, trade and finance. Financial institutions including the Royal Bank of Scotland and insurer Standard Life plan to transfer some operations across the border into England to ensure they remain part of British tax and currency systems.

CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 107.23 yen from the previous session's closing of 107.31. The euro edged up to $1.2966 from the previous session's $1.2959.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. oil was down $1.06 to $91.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange on expectations as concern about fighting in Iraq and tensions over Ukraine eased.

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