Following a negative Wall Street close overnight, most Asian stock market indices were trading lower on Thursday, 1 September. The Shanghai Composite index was down 0.19% at 3,079.61 as of 6.13 am GMT.
Traders also await US nonfarm payroll data to be released on Friday (2 September) which could have a bearing on the US Fed's decision on interest rates.
"While tight ranges remain the theme ahead of payrolls on Friday, equity markets have ended [August] on a downbeat mood. The sharp fall in oil prices appears to have been the trigger ... on the back of news that US crude oil stockpiles increased to another record high," Rodrigo Catril, strategist at the National Australia Bank, was quoted as saying by CNBC.
Meanwhile, China's official manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 50.4 in August, indicating expansion. This was not only more than a Reuters estimate of 49.9, but also exceeded July's 49.9 reading.
However, a private survey of small and medium companies showed that factory activity had stagnated. The Caixin China general manufacturing PMI for August came in at 50, lower than July's 50.6. Levels above 50 indicate expansion, while levels below point to a contraction.
Indices in the region were trading as follows at 6.23am GMT
|Hong Kong||Hang Seng Index||23,150.80||Up||0.76%|
Overnight (31 August), the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,400.88, down 0.29%, while the FTSE 100 closed at 6,781.51, down 0.58%
Among commodities, oil prices were trading higher after a sharp decline overnight. While WTI crude oil was trading higher by 0.45% at $44.90 (£34.16) a barrel, Brent crude was 0.34% higher at $47.05 a barrel as of 6.29am GMT.