Asian Stocks Retreat for a Fourth Day on Greece, China

Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index headed for a four-day loss, amid concern Europe’s crisis is worsening and as the International Monetary Fund said China’s economy faces significant downside risks. Suppliers to Apple Inc. tumbled after the company reported earnings that missed estimates.

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., an operator of ports and retail chains that gets 55 percent of its revenue in Europe, fell 1.6 percent in Hong Kong. Toshiba Corp. paced losses among Apple suppliers. Sony Corp., Japan’s No. 1 exporter of consumer electronics, dropped to the lowest since 1980 after a report showed Japan had an unexpected trade surplus in June. Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd., China’s second-biggest electronics retailer, plunged to an all-time low in Hong Kong after forecasting a first-half loss.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.9 percent to 112.99 as of 8:58 p.m. in Tokyo, headed for the lowest close since June 12. About three stocks dropped for each that rose, with eight out of the measure’s 10 industries declining. Measures of volatility increased across the region.

“Signals coming out of Greece are not positive in terms of implementing agreements, and so Europe is going to remain a key negative for markets for quite some time to come,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which oversees about $150 billion. “The outlook remains very difficult for major economies and therefore for equity markets.”

Valuation Comparison

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell about 12 percent from this year’s high on Feb. 29 through yesterday amid concern China’s economy is slowing and Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis will worsen. The regional benchmark index traded at 11.6 times estimated earnings as of yesterday, compared with 12.9 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 10.5 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 1.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index lost 1.4 percent, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2 percent after a report showed consumer prices rose in line with estimates last quarter. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index pared its retreat to 0.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index decreased 0.5 percent.

The HSI Volatility Index climbed 0.1 percent to 22.73, the highest since June 19, indicating options traders expect a swing of 6.5 percent in the benchmark over the next 30 days. Gauges of anticipated price movements for Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Korea’s Kospi 200 Index rose more than 5 percent.

Exporters to Europe fell as Greece Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is scheduled to meet with European Commission President Jose Barroso in Athens this week before seeing the “troika” of officials representing the euro area, the European Central Bank and the IMF on July 27.

Crisis Creep

Eastern European economies will expand at half last year’s pace in 2012 as fallout from the euro-area debt crisis spreads, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said today.

Hutchison Whampoa fell 1.6 percent to HK$67.30 in Hong Kong. Canon Inc., the world’s biggest camera maker that gets 31 percent of its revenue in Europe, fell 0.9 percent to 2,678 yen.

Japanese exporters also fell after data showed the nation had a trade surplus of 61.7 billion yen ($790 million) in June. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated a deficit of 140 billion yen. Sony dropped 5.2 percent to 870 yen, the lowest close since 1980.

Valuations Ignored

Of the 1,007 companies in the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index, about 35 percent have price-to-book ratios of less than one, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Those companies include Japan’s Honda Motor Co., Singapore Airlines Ltd., Australian oil explorer Origin Energy Ltd. and Hutchison Whampoa. A value below one means a company can be bought for less than the value of its assets.

“Investors continue to run away from Europe,” said Goya Nakao, a senior investment manager at Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Asset Management Co., which oversees about 5 trillion yen. “Stocks and sectors that are highly dependent on external demand just keep falling. Sentiment has deteriorated so much that investors are ignoring cheap valuations and selling to cut their losses.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.4 percent today after falling as much as 0.7 percent. Apple’s profit and sales missed projections for only the second time since 2003 as customers held off on iPhone purchases while waiting for a new model to be introduced later in the year. The S&P index dropped 0.9 percent in New York yesterday.

Toshiba Plunges

Apple suppliers declined across the region. Toshiba Corp., a supplier of chips for Apple’s iPad, slumped 7.3 percent to 242 yen, the lowest since 2009. Catcher Technology Co., a casing maker of iPhones, slid 2.1 percent to NT$165.5 in Taiwan. Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, dropped 1 percent to 1.158 million won.

Earnings have missed analyst estimates for 51 percent of the 67 firms listed on the Asia-Pacific index that have reported quarterly results this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Gome Electrical Appliances plunged 14 percent to an all-time low of 66 Hong Kong cents after forecasting a first-half loss on lower sales and losses at its e-commerce unit. The retailer reported an 88 percent profit decline in the first quarter as China stopped subsidizing some home appliance purchases.

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