Asian Stocks Decline as U.S. Data Fail to Encourage

Asian stocks fell as better-than-expected U.S. consumer confidence failed to encourage buying after the region’s benchmark equities index yesterday gained the most in two months. Japanese shares led losses after the expiration of a deadline for getting dividend payments.

Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, lost 0.8 percent. Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Japan’s third-largest bank by market value, paced losses among financial firms. Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. slumped 16 percent in Hong Kong after China’s No. 2 electronics retailer missed profit estimates Li & Fung Ltd., the world’s biggest supplier of clothes and toys to retailers, slid 5.3 percent in Hong Kong on a plan to sell shares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6 percent to 127.12 as of 12:34 p.m. in Tokyo, having lost 1.4 percent this month. The measure advanced 12 percent this year through yesterday, headed for the biggest quarterly gain since the three months ended September 2009. The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index slid 0.4 percent.

“U.S. data overnight were mixed,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne. Asia. “As a result, we are in a consolidation phase after markets put on some pretty good gains, particularly in Japan.”

Consumer Confidence

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.9 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the bigger of China’s stock exchanges, dropped 1.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index fell 0.4 percent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.1 percent today. The index dropped 0.3 percent in New York yesterday after the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence dropped to 70.2 from a 71.6 reading in February.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities fell 3.8 percent from a year earlier, after decreasing 4.1 percent in December.

Exporters to the U.S. slipped. Samsung dropped 0.8 percent to 1.3 million won. Techtronic Industries Co., maker of Ryobi power tools and Hoover vacuum cleaners that counts North America as its largest market, lost 4.7 percent to HK$10.24.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index has risen this year amid optimism the U.S. economy is recovering and monetary easing from China to Europe will spur economic growth. Gains boosted the value of shares on the Asia-Pacific gauge to 15 times estimated earnings on average as of yesterday, higher than 13.5 times for the S&P 500 and 11.2 times for the Stoxx 600.

Nikkei 225

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 1.3 percent after yesterday gaining 2.4 percent yesterday, the most in six months. Mizuho Financial is among 1,307 companies on the 1,666-member Topix index that went ex-dividend today. Yesterday was the last day to buy the shares and still get a payout.

Mizuho slid 1.4 percent to 140 yen. Among other companies that went ex-dividend today, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s biggest lender, lost 0.7 percent to 433 yen. Mitsui Fudosan Co., a real-estate company, fell 0.8 percent to 1,581 yen.

The Nikkei 225 Volatility Index declined 3 percent to 19.65, indicating traders expect a swing of 5.6 percent on the benchmark gauge over the next 30 days. Volatility gauges for Korea’s Kospi 200 Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose.

Gome Electrical Appliances Holding slumped 16 percent to HK$1.75 after its 2011 profit fell 6 percent, missing analyst estimates as higher costs weighed on earnings.

Of 648 companies listed in the Asia-Pacific measure that have reported earnings since Jan. 9, more than half have missed analysts’ estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Share Sale

Li & Fung fell 5.3 percent to HK$18.56. The supplier to Wall-Mart Stores Inc. is raising HK$3.9 billion ($502 million) in a share sale as it pushes for growth through acquisitions. The company is selling 210 million shares at HK$18.62 each to boost general working capital, according to a statement. The offer price is a 5 percent discount to yesterday’s close and is below the midpoint of a range marketed to investors, according to a term sheet for the sale.

Sharp Corp. shares were bid at their daily limit in Tokyo after Foxconn Technology Group and founder Terry Gou agreed to invest 133 billion yen ($1.6 billion) in the TV maker and its display unit to secure flat panels.

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