June 4 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index retreating from a seven-month high, as investors await a report on U.S. jobs and a decision from the European Central Bank on monetary policy.
HTC Corp. tumbled 4.3 percent after sales slumped at the Taiwanese smartphone maker. Tokyo Electric Power Co. dropped 2 percent as utilities slid the most among the regional measure’s industry groups. Australand Property Group climbed to an almost six-year high in Sydney after Frasers Centrepoint Ltd., a Singapore property company spun off from Fraser & Neave Ltd., trumped Stockland’s offer to buy the firm.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.1 percent to 142.90 as of 4:04 p.m. in Hong Kong. A private survey on the U.S. labor market is due today, while investors are assessing European inflation data to gauge if the ECB will announce an interest-rate cut tomorrow.
“With U.S. economic data starting to ramp up, some investors feel this warrants a bit of caution,” Stan Shamu, a markets strategist in Melbourne at IG Ltd., said by e-mail. “At the same time, we have the European situation where traders just continue to speculate what action the ECB will take this week.”
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.6 percent even after a report showed gross domestic product grew 1.1 percent last quarter from the previous period, beating economist forecasts. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index retreated 0.1 percent. South Korea’s market was closed for a holiday. Japan’s Topix index gained 0.4 percent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.6 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in the city lost 0.5 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index closed little changed and Singapore’s Straits Times Index declined 0.4 percent. Thailand’s SET Index added 0.1 percent and India’s BSE S&P Sensex Index was little changed.
Euro-area inflation slowed more than economists projected in May. ECB President Mario Draghi has signaled he will act to prevent deflation in the 18-nation bloc. Of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, 44 predict the ECB will become the first major central bank to take interest rates negative by cutting its deposit rate. All but two of 58 respondents said the benchmark rate would also be reduced.
Today’s ADP National Employment report in the U.S. is expected to show an increase of 210,000 workers for May after recording a gain of 220,000 in April, a Bloomberg survey of economists showed.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today after the U.S. gauge closed little changed yesterday, near a record high.
The Asia-Pacific index traded at 13.1 times estimated earnings at the last close compared with 16.3 times for the S&P 500 and 15.3 on the Europe Stoxx 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
HTC lost 4.3 percent to NT$143.50, an almost three-month low, after sales in May dropped 27 percent from a year earlier.
Japanese utilities retreated. Tepco fell 2 percent to 435 yen, Tohoku Electric Power Co. retreated 1 percent to 1,096 yen and Kansai Electric Power Co. declined 0.8 percent to 921 yen.
Australand surged 5.6 percent to A$4.55 and Stockland gained 1.8 percent to A$4.01. Frasers offered A$4.48 per share compared with Stockland’s A$4.43 all-share bid. Australand’s board said it intends to recommend the offer in the absence of a superior proposal.
JFE Holdings Inc. climbed 3.2 percent to 2,032 yen after Credit Suisse Group AG advised buying shares of the Japanese steelmaker.
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