Asian stocks fell for a sixth day as Australia’s jobless rate increased and South Korea unexpectedly cut interest rates, underscoring concern that the global economy is slowing. Hong Kong stocks slid ahead of a report from China tomorrow expected to show the slowest expansion since the financial crisis.
Asahi Glass Co. led Japanese makers of the material lower after cutting its operating profit forecast by almost a third. Hyundai Motor Co. fell 3.1 percent as its workers threatened to strike. Infosys Ltd., India’s second-biggest exporter of software, slid 8.7 percent after cutting a sales forecast. China Construction Bank Corp. paced declines among mainland lenders.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 1.6 percent to 114.73 as of 5:35 p.m. in Tokyo, headed for its steepest drop since June 4, with more than five stocks declining for each that rose. The gauge fell 9.6 percent from this year’s high on Feb. 29 through yesterday, as Europe’s spreading debt crisis weighed on growth and corporate earnings.
“The global economy is deteriorating faster than central banks can ease policy,” said Tomomi Yamashita, a senior fund manager in Tokyo at Shinkin Asset Management Co., which oversees about $6.3 billion. “Your best bet is to hold on to cash right now.”
Stocks on Asia’s benchmark index are valued at 11.8 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.9 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 10.7 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.5 percent today. The gauge closed little changed in New York yesterday, erasing losses in the final hour of trading as investors sifted through minutes of a Federal Reserve meeting for hints of additional stimulus.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.5 percent today, extending losses after the Bank of Japan altered its stimulus program without adding extra money. The bank expanded its asset-purchase fund to 45 trillion yen ($564 billion) from 40 trillion yen, while paring a loan program by 5 trillion yen.
“The BOJ doesn’t want to do much quantitative easing, but it’s going through the motions,” said Ichiro Takamatsu, a fund manager at Tokyo-based Bayview Asset Management Co., which oversees 150 billion yen.
The Kospi Index declined 2.2 percent in Seoul even after the Bank of Korea unexpectedly cut its key interest rate. Stocks fell as workers at Hyundai Motor, one of the country’s biggest companies, threatened to strike for the first time since 2008 unless wages are increased and hours are reduced.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index retreated 0.7 percent, reversing early gains, after a report showed the country’s employers cut 27,000 workers in June.
The Hang Seng China Enterprise Index of mainland stocks listed Hong Kong led declines among major Asian benchmarks, sliding 2.2 percent. A report tomorrow is expected to show China’s economic growth fell below 8 percent for the first time since 2009, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The benchmark Hang Seng Index dropped 2 percent.
China Construction Bank slid 3.7 percent to HK$4.75 in Hong Kong, while Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the nation’s biggest lender by market value, fell 2.4 percent to HK$3.99.
Asahi Glass lost 6.8 percent to 483 yen after cutting its operating profit forecast for the year through December by 29 percent. Demand may drop amid economic slowdowns in Europe and China, it said. Nippon Sheet Glass Co. retreated 3.9 percent to 74 yen.
Infosys slumped 8.7 percent to 2,255 rupees in Mumbai after cutting its sales forecast and reporting first-quarter profit that missed estimates. The stock had the biggest drop in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index.