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China leads Asian stock markets lower after poor factory data reinforce investor nervousness

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HONG KONG — Asian stocks extended a global market sell-off Wednesday as poor manufacturing data from the world's two biggest economies dampened investor sentiment.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China led declines in Asia, falling as much as 4.4 percent at the open before reeling back losses to trade 2 percent lower at 3,105.13. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.1 percent to 20,956.36 and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.6 percent to 1,903.51. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index was the sole major Asian benchmark to rise, climbing 0.6 percent to 18,265.38. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.2 percent to 5,036.10.

FACTORY FUNK: Disappointing manufacturing data from the United States and China was one big factor contributing to the market malaise. A key U.S manufacturing index released Tuesday for August slid to its lowest level since May 2013 on the stronger dollar and slowing growth in foreign markets. Earlier in the day, an official Chinese survey of factory purchasing managers slumped to its lowest level in three years.

QUOTE-WORTHY: "Investor hopes that share market volatility had been put behind them have proven short-lived," Ric Spooner of CMC Markets wrote in a commentary. "Market action itself has again become the dominant concern for investors," he said. Wall Street's steep drop overnight reinforced investor skittishness that's adding to selling pressure, he said.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: The release of monthly U.S. jobs data on Friday will also provide further cues for investors while uncertainty over whether Federal Reserve officials, who meet Sept. 16-17, will raise rates continues to overshadow markets. In China, markets may be more volatile on Wednesday, which is the last day of trading before a two-day holiday to celebrate Japan's defeat in World War II. Some analysts think Beijing will try to intervene in the markets to prop up share prices heading into the holiday.

IMF PESSIMISM: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a speech in Indonesia that global economic growth is likely to be weaker than expected. Asia is still expected to lead global growth, but the pace is slowing and could sag further because of recent financial market volatility. "Overall, we expect global growth to remain moderate and likely weaker than we anticipated in July," Lagarde said. That reflects "weaker-than-expected recovery in advanced economies and a further slowdown in emerging economies, especially Latin America," she said.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks finished sharply lower Tuesday after the pessimistic factory data. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 2.8 percent to 16,058.35 and the S&P 500 fell 3 percent to 1,913.85. The Nasdaq composite fell 2.9 percent to 4,636.10.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.20 to $44.22 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed at $45.41 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 93 cents to $48.63 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 120.09 yen from 119.68 yen in late trading Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.1273 from $1.1299.

PHOTO: A man looks at an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Asian shares fell Tuesday as gloomy manufacturing data from China and weak investment figures in Japan augured further uncertainty for investors after a brutal August. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
A man looks at an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Asian shares fell Tuesday as gloomy manufacturing data from China and weak investment figures in Japan augured further uncertainty for investors after a brutal August. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Trader Michael Milano works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. More signs of weakness in China's economy are sending global stock markets sharply lower. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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