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Asian stocks fall further on Wall Street decline

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JOE McDONALD | January 2, 2014 11:05 PM EST | AP

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BEIJING (AP) — Asian markets fell further Friday after overnight declines on Wall Street, weaker Chinese manufacturing and gloomy outlooks for South Korean automakers.

Oil edged up to stay above $95 a barrel after suffering its biggest one-day drop in 14 months.

Major indexes closed out 2013 at or near record highs, but investors seemed reluctant to chase more gains in the new year.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.4 percent to 2,101.30, adding to the previous day's 0.3 percent loss after an HSBC Corp. survey showed manufacturing activity weakened in December. Analysts said that suggested China's modest economic recovery might be fading.

"We expect the upcoming set of data releases to show China's economy losing steam in December," said UBS economist Tao Wang in a report.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 1.2 percent to 23,045.5.

South Korea's Kospi gave up 0.8 percent to 1,950.98 after Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. said they expect 2014 to see their weakest sales growth in a decade.

Tokyo was closed for the last day of its New Year's break.

Investors looked ahead to comments later Friday by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Barnanke for indications about the possible pace of further reductions in monetary stimulus.

Elsewhere, Taiwan's Taiex lost 0.5 percent to 8,572.16 and Sydney's S&P ASX 200 declined 0.5 percent to 5,341.50. Singapore and Malaysia also fell.

New Zealand bucked the trend to add 0.5 percent to 5,129.26.

On Thursday, U.S. stocks fell despite data showing healthy December manufacturing growth. Analysts said prices were bound to pull back after higher corporate profits and Fed stimulus pushed markets to record levels in 2013.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index turned in its worst performance in three weeks, declining 0.9 percent. The Dow Jones and the Nasdaq both slid 0.8 percent.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed down 0.5 percent on Thursday while France's CAC-40 and Germany's DAX both shed 1.6 percent.

In currency markets, the U.S. dollar edged up 104.8 yen. The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.366.

Benchmark oil for February delivery gained 13 cents a barrel to $95.57 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $2.98 the previous day to settle at $95.44.