Asian stocks slide after weak US data add to global gloom

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Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A currency trader walks by a screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 16, 2020. Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday after unexpectedly weak U.S. retail and other data added to gloom about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday after unexpectedly weak U.S. retail and other data added to gloom about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Benchmarks in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai declined.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index sank 2.2% after the U.S. government reported last month's retail sales plunged by a record 8.7% and factory output fell at the fastest rate for March since 1946. The retail figures hit especially hard because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

The announcements shook investors who economists have warned are too optimistic about a quick rebound from what is shaping up to be the deepest global slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“Boy, were U.S. data a rude awakening,” said Riki Ogawa of Mizuho Bank in a report.

Any notion of a “V-shaped recovery” once anti-virus controls are lifted “is now being questioned more seriously,” Ogawa said.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 1.2% to 19,315.45 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.4% to 24,044.26. Seoul's Kospi shed 0.5% to 1,848.63.

The Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.1% lower to 2,803.43, while Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 lost 1.3% to 5,397.10. New Zealand's main index added 1.1% while Singapore and Jakarta retreated.