Japanese and Australian stock futures fell after U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly rose ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke today and as selling in German futures sparked a rout in global equities.
American depositary receipts of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (8306), Japan’s biggest lender, dropped 2.6 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Sony Corp. (6758), Japan’s No. 1 exporter of consumer electronics, slid 0.4 percent. ADRs of BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s largest mining company and Australia’s No. 1 oil producer, retreated 1.2 percent.
Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average expiring in September closed at 8,745 in Chicago yesterday, down from 8,780 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,740 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index dropped 0.1 percent in Wellington.
“Recent U.S. economic reports have shown mixed results, failing to boost confidence,” said Yutaka Yoshii, a strategist at Mito Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Expectations have waned about the possibility that Bernanke will signal further monetary easing.”
A report yesterday showed U.S. jobless claims rose by 5,000 to 417,000 last week. Investors are awaiting a speech by Bernanke in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, today for any indications of whether the central bank will signal further economic stimulus.
Declines in stocks intensified as Germany’s DAX Index (DAX) dropped 4 percent in 15 minutes yesterday. Traders sold German equity futures to hedge their investments before France, Italy and Spain extended curbs on short selling.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 13 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 7.8 percent drop by the S&P 500 and an 18 percent loss by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 11.6 times for the S&P 500 and 9.4 times for the Stoxx 600.
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