Most Asia Stocks Fall as Hong Kong Losses Offset Australia Gains

RBA Cut Rates Due to Global Inflation: Paul Bloxham
  • Private Chinese manufacturing gauge misses estimates for April
  • Hang Seng China Enterprises Index slumps, leading losses

Most Asian stocks fell as Chinese manufacturing data that missed estimates dragged down mainland firms in Hong Kong, overshadowing an Australian interest-rate cut that drove shares higher in Sydney.

About twice as many equities declined than rose on the MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index, which dropped 0.3 percent at 414.15 as of 4 p.m. in Hong Kong, swinging from a 0.5 percent gain. Markets in Tokyo are shut through Thursday. The Hang Seng Index lost 1.9 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares listed in Hong Kong retreated 2.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index added 1.9 percent, while Australia’s benchmark index rose 2.1 percent the most in more than two months.

“We’ve started to take a little bit of money off the table,” said Sean Darby, chief global equity strategist in Hong Kong at Jefferies Group LLC. “There’s quite a bit for investors to digest now after quite a big run-up in markets, particularly after the disappointment from the Bank of Japan last week. We’re into the May doldrums where people are starting to reconsider portfolios and will probably not do too much.”

The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index declined to 49.4 in April from 49.7, missing the median estimate of economists for a reading of 49.8. The data comes after an official index released at the weekend showed a drop to 50.1 from 50.2. Fifty is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

Global stocks advanced on the first trading day of May, following a week that saw risk assets shunned amid speculation central banks from Asia to Europe won’t rush to add to unprecedented stimulus. The Federal Reserve struck a more hawkish tone with its policy statement last week, even as signs mount that the rate of U.S. economic growth continues to slow, weighing on the dollar.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index extended gains after the central bank cut its benchmark rate to a record low 1.75 percent as it moves to counter the emergence of disinflation that’s swept the developed world.

Banks were also buoyed by Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., as new Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott said he plans to shrink the lender’s Asian business further and write down the value of some of its assets. The shares climbed 5.6 percent.

New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index added 0.8 percent and South Korea’s Kospi index rose 0.4 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 1 percent, Taiwan’s Taiex index fell 1 percent and India’s S&P BSE Sensex index declined 0.8 percent.

DBS Group Holdings Ltd., Southeast Asia’s largest bank, climbed for the first time in eight days in Singapore after announcing a bigger profit than analysts forecast. PICC Property & Casualty Co. slid 5.9 percent in Hong Kong, the most since January, after American International Group Inc. sold shares near the low end of a market range to raise $1.25 billion.

Futures on the S&P 500 index fell 0.5 percent after the underlying gauge rose 0.8 percent Monday. Halliburton Co. added 1.8 percent and Baker Hughes Inc. fell 2 percent after ditching their $28 billion merger. More than 115 of S&P 500 companies, including Pfizer Inc., Priceline Group Inc. and Whole Foods Market Inc. are scheduled to report earnings this week.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE