Australian Stocks, Japan Futures Retreat; Panasonic ADRs Plummet

Australian stocks fell, led by resources companies and banks, while Japanese stock futures retreated ahead of economic releases and the presidential election in the U.S.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s No. 1 mining company retreated 0.9 percent in Sydney. American depository receipts of Panasonic Corp. plunged 9.6 percent after the appliance maker projected a loss that was about 30 times bigger than analysts estimated. Sharp Corp.’s ADRS climbed 4.4 percent ahead of the company’s results today.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.7 percent, heading for its first decline in four days. Futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average were bid at 8,910 in Osaka from 8,930 yesterday. China releases a purchasing manager’s index today and the monthly jobs report is due in the U.S. tomorrow.

“There’s no reason to buy shares ahead of important events,” said Mitsushige Akino, Tokyo-based chief fund officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co., which oversees about 30 billion yen ($376 million). “Lower corporate earnings forecasts stemming from the sluggish global economy has been factored into markets but the lingering slump in China and tensions between Japan and China may cause companies to cut forecast further.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.4 percent last month as more than half the gauge’s companies that reported earnings missed profit estimates. That pared to 12 percent an advance from this year’s low on June 4 as global central banks added stimulus to safeguard economic recoveries. Stocks on the measure traded yesterday at an average of 12.9 times estimated earnings, compared with 13.5 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.1 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

After Sandy

Gauges tracking banks and mining companies were the biggest drags on the S&P/ASX 200 today.

Most U.S. stocks rose, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reversing an earlier loss, as equity markets reopened after Hurricane Sandy caused the longest weather-related shutdown since 1888.

A Chicago area purchasing managers index showed a contraction yesterday while economists had estimated it signal expansion. Data on manufacturing and unemployment are due today and tomorrow. The U.S. presidential election will be held next Tuesday.

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