Most Asian stocks fell, with the regional index retreating a fourth day, after China’s imports grew at about half the pace economists expected, fueling concern a slowdown is deepening in the world’s second-biggest economy. Shares rose earlier as Europe’s finance chiefs made progress on Spain’s bailout.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest miner, reversed gains after the China trade data. China Yurun Food Group Ltd. tumbled 6.6 percent after its chairman resigned. Nikon Corp. slumped 7 percent in Tokyo after Intel Corp. said it will invest in a rival of the Japanese manufacturer of chip-making equipment. Cosco Pacific Ltd., which operates a port in Greece, rose 0.9 percent after Europe agreed to speed loans to Spanish banks.
“Economic reports around the world have not been overly bullish,” said Norman Chan, Hong Kong-based head of investment at Calibre Asset Management Ltd., a unit of National Australia Bank Ltd. “Sentiment is still weak and although we think there’s good value for stocks in the long run, the volatility in the meantime is a bit high for less aggressive investors.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.1 percent to 116.70 as of 7:31 p.m. in Tokyo after rising as much as 0.4 percent. About five stocks declined for every four that rose.
Asia’s equity benchmark, which includes shares listed in developing countries, has lost 2.2 percent in the last four trading sessions amid disappointing economic data from the U.S., China and Japan. Stocks on the gauge are valued at 11.9 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 10.6 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average and South Korea’s Kospi Index fell 0.4 percent today, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 0.2 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.3 percent.
China’s inbound shipments increased 6.3 percent from a year earlier, the customs bureau said in a statement today in Beijing, compared with the 11 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 32 economists.
BHP Billiton slid 0.8 percent to A$31.22 in Sydney. Sims Metal Management Ltd., a scrap metal processer, slid 6.9 percent to A$8.97. China Shipping Development Co. dropped 4.1 percent to $3.51 in Hong Kong. Komatsu Ltd., a Japanese construction-equipment maker that gets about 12 percent of its revenue from China, slid 3.5 percent to 1,818 yen in Tokyo.
China Yurun slumped 6.6 percent to HK$5.97 after its chairman and founder Zhu Yicai resigned. The meat processer on July 7 replaced its chief executive officer for the second time in four months.
Nikon fell 7 percent to 2,336 yen in Tokyo after Intel, its second-biggest customer, agreed to invest as much as $4.1 billion in ASML Holding NV. Intel accounts for accounts for about 4.4 percent of Nikon’s sales, the largest portion after Samsung Electronics Co., which comprises about 6.4 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
OCI Co. slumped 5.7 percent to 216,500 won in Seoul after Nomura Holdings Inc. cut the chemical maker’s target price to 180,000 won from 200,000 won, saying its polysilicon business will lose money on an operating basis through 2013.
Companies that do business in Europe rose after Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said euro-area governments will jump-start as much as 100 billion euros ($123 billion) in loans to shore up Spain’s banks.
Cosco Pacific climbed 0.9 percent to HK$10.04. Canon Inc., a Japanese camera maker that gets almost a third of its sales in Europe, advanced as much as 1.5 percent to 3,100 yen.