Industrial Bank of Korea sank 4.2 percent after the South Korea government sold more than 13 million shares in the lender. BHP Billiton Ltd. lost 1.5 percent in Sydney after copper yesterday fell for the first time in a week. Rakuten Inc. surged 6.4 percent in Tokyo, leading Asia-Pacific information technology shares higher, after the e-commerce company said it will boost its dividend.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.2 percent to 141.29 as of 5:04 p.m. in Hong Kong after rising as much as 0.1 percent. The gauge rose 9.5 percent this year through yesterday as central banks around the world pledged to leave interest rates near record lows for a prolonged period.
“Data on balance still looks murky,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research in Sydney at Perpetual Ltd., which manages about $25 billion, said by e-mail. “Most importantly, there was a surprise decline in the Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index yesterday traded at 13.94 times estimated earnings, close to the multiple of 14 reached on Nov. 18, which was the highest since May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares to a current multiple of 16.3 on the S&P 500 and 15.1 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Japan’s Topix index fell 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.5 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.2 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index dropped 0.1 percent, and Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.5 percent, its highest close since January. China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.8 percent.
More than $8 trillion has been added to the value of global equities this year, the biggest increase since 2009, as central banks took steps to shore up economies worldwide. The S&P 500 is poised for its best annual performance since 1998, with an increase of 26.4 percent through yesterday. Three rounds of Fed bond purchase programs have helped push the S&P 500 up 166 percent from a bear-market low reached in 2009.
The Conference Board’s gauge of U.S. consumer confidence fell to 70.4 in November from a revised 72.4 in October, which was stronger than initially estimated, the New York-based private research group said yesterday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 78 economists called for a reading of 72.6.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda helped drive a 45 percent surge in Japan’s Topix this year by maintaining monetary easing as he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sought to jolt the nation out of 15 years of deflation. The Topix is the best performing of 24 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg, on course for its biggest annual advance since 1999.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. U.S. stocks pared gains in the final minutes of trading yesterday before changes in MSCI Inc. indexes, offsetting a rally among homebuilders and technology shares. The Nasdaq Composite Index topped 4,000 for first time in 13 years. The S&P 500 added less than 0.1 percent to 1,802.75, after earlier rising as much as 0.3 percent.
The U.S. flew two unarmed B-52 bombers into a disputed air-defense zone claimed by China, the first test of the Asian nation’s response amid escalating tensions in the region that have implications for international air travel.
The foray into China’s newly claimed zone occurred without incident, according to a U.S. defense official. The area includes three islands in the East China Sea that are owned by Japan, a major U.S. ally, and have been at the center of a dispute between Asia’s two biggest economies.
Industrial Bank of Korea fell 4.2 percent to 11,500 won. The South Korean government raised 265 billion won ($250 million) selling a 4.2 percent stake in the bank at 11,400 won per share. The state retains more than 50 percent of equity in the lender.
Raw-material companies led the largest decline among the 10 industry groups on the Asia-Pacific index. BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, declined 1.5 percent to A$37.25 and Rio Tinto Group fell 1.1 percent to A$64.30 in Sydney.
Rakuten (4755) surged 6.4 percent to 1,527 yen in Tokyo. The Internet retailer controlled by billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani will raise its dividend to 4 yen a share from 3 yen a year earlier. The higher payout includes a 1-yen-a-share commemorative payout following a plan to move its listing to the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the victory by its baseball team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, in this year’s Japan Series.
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