Asian stocks dropped this week, with utilities and materials producers leading declines, after China manufacturing data signaled persisting weakness in the world’s second-largest economy.
Anhui Conch Cement Co., China’s biggest producer of the building material, dropped 6 percent. Kansai Electric Power Co. slid 7 percent after saying it may take a long time to restart its nuclear reactors due to safety precautions. China Mobile Ltd. fell 4 percent after the world’s biggest phone company posted its third straight drop in quarterly profit. Largan Precision Co., a supplier of lenses used in iPhones and iPads, surged 17 percent to a record in Taipei after Apple Inc. beat estimates.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.7 percent to 138.17 this week. The preliminary Purchasing Managers’ Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics for April signaled a fourth month of contraction in Chinese factory activity.
“Concerns about China’s slowdown and escalating tensions in Ukraine are keeping people from being bullish,” said John Vail, Tokyo-based chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management Co., which manages about $157 billion. “Asia is a little bit more sensitive to these things.”
U.S. President Barack Obama discussed deepening sanctions against Russia with the leaders of Germany, France, the U.K. and Italy on a conference call yesterday. Discussions on sanctions by the Group of Seven nations accelerated after Russia renewed military exercises on its neighbor’s border and explosions in two Ukrainian cities injured eight.
South Korea’s Kospi index slid 1.6 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index sank 2.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.4 percent. India’s BSE Sensex index rose 0.3 percent.
Japan’s Topix lost 0.3 percent. A report yesterday showed Tokyo’s consumer prices rose 2.7 percent from a year earlier in April, the biggest jump since 1992, pumped up by a sales-tax increase and a year of unprecedented stimulus from the Bank of Japan.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 1.4 percent to its highest since June 2008 in a week shortened by holidays. The nation’s core consumer prices gained less than economists forecast last quarter, allowing the central bank to extend a period of steady interest rates.
New Zealand Rates
New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 1 percent. The central bank raised interest rates for the second time in two months as the economic recovery gathers pace, and said it will assess the extent to which currency gains curb inflation.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 2.9 percent this week. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in Hong Kong slipped 2.8 percent, while the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index Index lost 2.4 percent.
HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics survey of China manufacturing had a preliminary reading of 48.3 in April, matching the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg and rising from March’s final figure of 48. Readings below 50 signal contraction.
There are “now expectations that the target of 7.5 percent Chinese GDP growth for this year might be the top end of guidance,” Tony Farnham, an economist at Patersons Securities Ltd. in Perth, said by phone. “The actual growth number may be a little below that.”
No ‘Strong’ Stimulus
Premier Li Keqiang has said China isn’t considering “strong” stimulus, and reiterated that economic growth a bit higher or lower than the official goal is within a reasonable range.
Chinese cement makers and lenders dropped. Anhui Conch dropped 6 percent to HK$29 this week. BBMG Corp., a mainland cement producer and developer, sank 9.1 percent to HK$5.80. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. slid 3.7 to HK$4.63. Agricultural Bank of China Ltd lost 3.6 percent to HK$3.21.
China Mobile fell 4 percent to HK$69.05. Net income slid 9.4 percent to about 25.24 billion yuan ($4 billion) in the first quarter, the Beijing-based company reported yesterday. Profit was expected to be 27 billion yuan, based on the median of five analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.
Hyundai Motor Co. fell 3.7 percent to 236,000 won in Seoul. South Korea’s largest automaker reported first-quarter profit that missed analyst estimates as a stronger won eroded export earnings.
Samsung Heavy Industries Co., the world’s second-largest shipyard, tumbled 9 percent to 28,500 won in Seoul. Samsung Group has been conducting an internal audit of the company since February, the Korea Economic Daily reported, citing officials it didn’t identify. Samsung Heavy spokesman Koo Sang Ok declined to confirm details. Two calls to Samsung Group weren’t immediately answered.
Apple suppliers advanced after the world’s most valuable company reported second-quarter revenue and profit. Largan Precision jumped 17 percent to NT$1,875 in Taiwan. Catcher Technology Co., which makes casings for iPhones and iPads, climbed 8.2 percent to NT$256.50.
Resona Holdings Inc. rose 6.6 percent to 520 yen after Greenlight Capital Inc., a hedge fund run by David Einhorn, said it bought shares in the Japanese lender. Greenlight paid 547 yen per share, and described the bank as “cheap on both an absolute and relative basis.”