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Major Asian stock markets close day with losses

Major Asian stock markets closed Wednesday mixed as weak economic data from the US hurt risk sentiment.

US job openings fell to 9.9 million in February, the lowest level since May 2021 and better than expectations of 10.4 million, according to Labor Department figures released Tuesday.

US factory orders fell 0.7% in February for the third time in the last four months, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The Asia Dow, which includes blue-chip companies in the region, fell 1.04% to 3,396 points.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 decreased 1.68% to 27,813 points.

The au Jibun Bank Japan services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose for the seventh consecutive month, reaching nearly a 20-year high of 55 in March thanks to the government’s support to ward off the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was revised upwards from a preliminary figure of 54.2, and after a final of 54 in February.

The Singapore index rose 0.23% to reach 3,318

The S&P Global Singapore PMI rose to 52.6 in March from 49.6 in the previous month. Surpassing the 50 threshold mark, the figure signaled a renewed improvement in private sector conditions.

Singapore’s retail sales increased by 12.7% from a year ago in February, following a 0.8% decline in January

India’s Sensex index went up 0.99% to close at 59,698 after returning from a holiday, ahead of the Indian central bank’s monetary policy decision due on Thursday.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to hike the interest rate by 25 basis points to 6.75%.

The S&P Global India Services PMI fell to 57.8 in March from February’s 12-year high of 59.4.

The Hang Seng, the benchmark for blue-chip stocks trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange, and China’s Shanghai Stock Exchange were closed due to a public holiday for the Ching Ming festival on Wednesday.

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