Asia Stocks Fall, Led by Finance, Consumer-Staple Shares

Securities Firm in Tokyo
A man looks at an electronic stock board displaying the closing figure of the Nikkei 225 Stock Average and other indices outside a securities firm in Tokyo. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index reversing earlier gains as financial and consumer-staple shares led the decline.

Japan’s Topix index closed little changed after rising as much as 1.1 percent. China Overseas Grand Oceans Group Ltd. led the decline in the MSCI Asia Pacific Financials Index. China South City Holdings Ltd. soared 61 percent in Hong Kong as Tencent Holdings Ltd. said it will buy a stake in the logistics-center operator. Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s biggest gold producer, jumped 7 percent after saying gold production will be around the top end of its forecast range.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.1 percent to 139.24 as of 8:09 p.m. in Tokyo after rising as much as 0.3 percent. Shares earlier gained following a global rally that saw the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climb 0.5 percent to a record and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index jump 1 percent yesterday as the World Bank boosted its global economic growth forecast.

“The market is being sold after rising yesterday and this morning fast, but it’s not that something changed the market’s direction,” said Takuya Takahashi, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities Group Inc., Japan’s second-largest brokerage. “We don’t see anything that casts a cloud over the U.S. economy or any negative earnings results.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.4 percent after advancing as much as 0.8 percent. A report showed Japan’s machinery orders for November beat estimates. South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 1.2 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 0.2 percent.

Regional Gauges

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.4 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in the city dropped 0.1 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index was little changed. Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 0.1 percent and Taiwan’s Taiex index rose 0.1 percent.

Futures on the S&P 500 lost 0.1 percent today. Bank of America Corp. climbed 2.3 percent to $17.15 yesterday, the highest since May 2010. The second-biggest U.S. lender’s profit more than quadrupled as the company quelled claims tied to defective mortgages.

The Federal Reserve said “moderate” growth across most of the U.S. last month was buoyed by gains in holiday spending by consumers, an improving labor market and strength in manufacturing.

‘Positive’ Outlook

“The economic outlook is positive in most districts, with some reports citing expectations of ‘more of the same’ and some expecting a pickup in growth,” the Fed said yesterday in its Beige Book business survey, based on reports gathered on or before Jan. 6.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said yesterday that momentum in the world economy in the second half of last year should continue in 2014. The Washington-based fund plans to raise its forecast for global growth when it releases a report later this month.

“For the time being, I think the fundamental story is real and strong enough to keep the market going,” said Mikio Kumada, a Hong Kong-based global strategist for LGT Capital Partners. “We just bought more into developed equity markets a few days ago.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Financials Index lost 0.5 percent with China Overseas Grand Oceans, a developer, falling 4.5 percent to HK$6.86. The MSCI Asia Pacific Consumer Staples Index declined 0.4 percent.

Record Close

China South City soared 61 percent to HK$3.49, a record, and Tencent gained 0.8 percent to HK512.50, also an all-time high. China South City is selling a 9.9 percent stake for HK$1.5 billion ($193 million). Tencent may use China South City’s logistics and trade center network to compete against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. for China’s 608 million Internet users who spend money online.

Newcrest Mining jumped 7 percent to A$9.13 after its investment rating was raised to overweight at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 13.1 times estimated earnings as of yesterday, compared with 15.6 for the S&P 500 and 14.1 for the Stoxx 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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