Aug. 31 - Asian stock markets close nine percent down for August, in worst monthly performance since May 2010. Arnold Gar reports.
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Asian stocks edged higher Wednesday (August 31), poised to end a volatile month on a stronger note.
But regional markets are still on course for their worst monthly performance since May last year, when shares dropped 10 percent.
Wednesday's broad support came from the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's August meeting, which showed some policymakers were pushing for bold new steps to shore up a flagging recovery.
This has heightened expectations of Fed action next month.
Tokyo stocks closed flat, with profit-taking after 4 days of gains. Sentiment was also somewhat subdued after poorer-than-expected factory data.
Manufacturing fell in South Korea, but the benchmark Kospi rose two percent as foreign investors continued buying Korean stocks.
Shanghai shares bucked the recent Asian uptrend, falling for a 4th day, as investors sought clarity on Beijing's monetary policy stance.
China last Friday (August 26) widened reserve requirements for banks, effectively taking credit off the market.
A fall in first-half corporate earnings also disappointed investors.
The Shanghai composite pared losses in afternoon trade, but was still lower at 2pm local time (0600 GMT).
BNP Paribas' Edwin Sanft says September is not likely to be too different for Asian markets
SOUNDBITE (English) BNP PARIBAS' DEPUTY HEAD OF REGIONAL EQUITY RESEARCH ERWIN SANFT SAYING :
"We're seeing a very slow growth scenario emerging in developed economies, stagnation, I think, is probably the best word we can use to describe the outlook. Policymakers don't have as many quick fix tools at their disposal as they did at the end of 2008, so it's going to be a bit of a grind. A lot of this negative outlook, of course, is priced into equity markets, but we're not looking for a quick turnaround yet."
A Reuters poll shows the U.S. economy adding 80,000 jobs in August, with unemployment staying at over nine percent.
The jobs data will follow weak consumer confidence numbers from the U.S. and U.K., and poor demand for an Italian bond sale that could threaten to push the euro zone's third biggest economy back to the centre of the region's debt crisis.
Arnold Gay, Reuters.