Asian Stocks Retreat as Topix Tumbles on Oil Talks, Quake Impact

  • Qantas Airways stock has biggest slide in more than two years
  • China shares drop as energy, property stocks lead declines

Asian stocks fell as oil talks failed to bring an agreement on limiting supplies, while Tokyo shares tumbled on a stronger yen and the impact of earthquakes that struck southern Japan.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 1.4 percent to 130.4 as of 6:01 p.m. in Hong Kong, retreating from a four-month high. The gauge surged 17 percent from its Feb. 12 low through last week, recouping all of its losses for 2016, as the Federal Reserve reassured investors that it won’t rush to increase borrowing costs and a rebound in commodity prices boosted mining and oil producers. West Texas Intermediate lost as much as 6.8 percent, the biggest intraday drop since Feb. 1.

“We’re seeing a knee-jerk reaction to the plunge in oil,” Tim Schroeders, a Melbourne-based portfolio manager at Pengana Capital Ltd., who helps oversee about $1.2 billion in assets, said by phone. “That’s going to trigger some profit-taking in equities. The market may have run ahead of itself and company results may not back up the recent bullishness. We’re not seeing a lot of earnings growth from corporates.”

Japan’s Topix index fell 3 percent as the yen appreciated to as much as 107.77 per U.S. dollar. The nation’s policy makers won little sympathy from its Group of 20 counterparts for possible intervention to reverse the currency strength. Japan’s insurers retreated in the wake of Thursday’s earthquake and strong aftershocks Saturday that pushed the death toll higher.

Earthquake Toll

Companies that halted some production after the quake dropped, including Sony Corp., which lost 6.8 percent. Toyota Motor Corp. slumped 4.8 percent after saying its operating profit may be reduced by about 30 billion yen ($277 million) for the quarter ending in June as the natural calamity disrupted parts supplies.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe increased the number of rescue workers to 25,000 in the earthquake-stricken south of the country where 42 people have died since Thursday in the nation’s most devastating natural disaster since March 2011. Hundreds are seriously injured and more than 100,000 have been evacuated to shelters, according to Kumamoto Prefecture’s disaster countermeasures office.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 1.4 percent, the most in three weeks. Real estate developers fell as data that showed home-price gains accelerating in March sparked concern the government will act to cool the property market.

South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.3 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index fell 0.4 percent, as did Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index retreated 0.7 percent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index added 0.1 percent.

Qantas, CIMB

Inpex Corp. fell 3.1 percent, pacing losses among energy producers, as oil extended declines. Qantas Airways Ltd. tumbled 11 percent in Sydney, the most in more than two years, after Australia’s largest carrier cut its planned domestic capacity expansion. CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. slumped 3.4 percent in Kuala Lumpur after the lender said its Chairman Nazir Razak is taking a leave of absence as the company reviews his role in distributing funds to politicians before elections three years ago.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.2 percent. The U.S. equity benchmark index slipped 0.1 percent on Friday as technology and energy shares declined.

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