Asian markets fall on U.S., Chinese concerns

Asian stock markets fell Monday as investors continued selling on concerns about weak Chinese manufacturing data and the direction of the U.S. economy.

European stocks were mixed in afternoon trading, and U.S. indexes edged higher as the week’s trading opened in New York. U.S. markets fell sharply Friday.

Japanese stocks led the losses across Asia on Monday, as the benchmark Nikkei 225 index and the Topix index both lost more than 3 percent.  Indexes in South Korea and Australia also suffered significant losses.

The sell-off in Asia accelerated after an HSBC Chinese manufacturing index fell to 49.2 in May, the lowest mark in at least seven months.  Any number below 50 signals a contraction.

Investors are also concerned over speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve may begin scaling back its massive bond buying program aimed at stimulating the U.S. economy, after a series of positive economic reports.

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