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US, Europe Blamed for Disappointing Asian Economic Figures


A man passes a screen displaying the Hong Kong Stock index, Aug. 2011 (file photo).

A man passes a screen displaying the Hong Kong Stock index, Aug. 2011 (file photo).

Sagging demand in the United States and Europe is being blamed for a wave of disappointing economic figures from across East Asia Thursday.

China reported a sharp drop in exports, while Japan reported a sharper-than-expected drop in core machinery orders -- a leading indicator of corporate spending. Australia, meanwhile, said foreign tourist arrivals are down sharply from this time last year.

The reports come just a day after International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned in Beijing that Asia is "not immune" from the risk of a downward economic spiral that the rest of the world is facing.

"If we do not act boldly and if we do not act together, the economy round the world runs the risk of a downward spiral of uncertainty, financial instability and a potential collapse of global demand," said Lagarde. "Ultimately, we could run the risk of what some commentators are already calling a lost decade. Clearly it's not lost everywhere and there are parts of the world where it's rebounding and certainly resisting, and Asia is very much part of that brighter picture. But Asia is not immune. Let's make no mistake."

China said Thursday its exports in October were almost 16 percent higher than in the same month a year ago, but down more than $11 billion from September. Reduced exports to the U.S. and the European Union accounted for almost half of the decline.

Analysts said the drop was caused by a combination of turbulence overseas and anti-inflation, tight-money policies at home.

Japan, meanwhile, said core machinery orders in September were down by 8.2 percent from the previous month, indicating that companies are scaling back their spending plans. Analysts blamed the drop on a combination of a strong yen and weak overseas demand.

In Australia, weak foreign economies and a strong Australian currency were blamed for a nine percent drop in September tourist arrivals compared to the same month last year. Tourism industry officials were quoted saying their sector, a major source of employment, is in a state of crisis.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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