Sydney: Asian stocks fell, with the region’s benchmark index retreating from the highest level since May, on signs of slower growth in the US and China and amid concern Europe’s leaders aren’t making progress in solving the region’s debt crisis.
Nissan Motor Co., a carmaker that counts North America as its biggest market, fell 1.5 per cent in Tokyo after US jobless claims rose more than expected. Aluminium Corp of China fell 1.8 per cent in Hong Kong after Dallas Federal Reserve economists said overstated data may have masked the severity of China’s slowdown. Makita Corp, a Japanese maker of power tools that depends on Europe for more than 40 per cent of sales, slid 1.1 per cent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 1.2 per cent to 120.38 as of 3:22pm in Tokyo, erasing this week’s advance. The gauge yesterday closed at the highest level since May 4.
“The rally seems to have been a bit more about hope over reality,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which oversees about $150 billion. “Clearly economic data has been pretty poor. The practicalities of what needs to be done to address this are huge.”
Asia’s equity benchmark climbed 12 per cent from a June low through yesterday on bets monetary authorities in the US, Europe and China would take action to boost slowing economic growth. Stocks on the index were valued at 12.6 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 11.6 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 1.2 per cent today. South Korea’s Kospi slid 1.3 per cent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index retreated 0.8 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.2 per cent. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.9 per cent.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index advanced 0.1 per cent today. The gauge slid 0.8 per cent yesterday, the most in a month after a report showed the number of applications for unemployment benefits climbed last week to a one-month high. Jobless claims rose for a second week to 372,000, exceeding the 365,000 median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Exporters fell. Nissan slid 1.5 per cent to 765 yen. Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd, which makes shoes for Nike Inc and gets 29 per cent of sales in the US, lost 1.7 per cent to A$22.95. Makita slid 1.1 per cent to 2,933 yen. Cosco Pacific Ltd, a shipping company which operates a port terminal in Greece, declined 1.1 per cent to HK$10.38.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe is in one of its deepest crises, while the country’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said allowing Greece more time to meet its debt obligations would not solve the country’s problems.
China may have overstated 2012 industrial production data to conceal the economy’s weakness, Dallas Fed economists Janet Koech and Jian Wang wrote in a paper. Separately, HSBC Holdings Plc cut China’s 2012 growth forecast to 8 per cent from 8.4 per cent.
Bank of China Ltd, the nation’s third-largest lender by assets, slid 1.3 per cent to HK$2.95 after posting the slowest quarterly profit growth in three years.
Whitehaven Coal Ltd slumped 12 per cent to A$3.09 in Sydney after a group led by billionaire shareholder Nathan Tinkler said it isn’t proceeding with a takeover offer.
Among shares that rose, China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd advanced 2.9 per cent to HK$13.40. The nation’s second-largest mobile-phone company reported second-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates.