Asia Stocks Swing Between Gains and Losses as Miners Rise
Asian stocks swung between gains and losses as miners rose and consumer staple companies slid.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, climbed 2.6 percent in Sydney, leading an advance among raw material producers. Super Retail Group Ltd. (SUL) tumbled as much as 24 percent, the most on record, after the Australian retailer forecast first-half profit that missed analyst estimates. Unicharm Corp., a Japanese maker of diapers, dropped 1.6 percent, pacing losses among consumer staple companies.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added less than 0.1 percent to 139.57 as of 9:32 a.m. in Tokyo, after falling as much as 0.1 percent earlier. The measure is little changed on the week.
“Investors are digesting economic fundamentals and earnings one by one,” said Hitoshi Asaoka, a Tokyo-based senior strategist at Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. “Expectations for earnings and monetary easing supported stocks toward the end of last year, but now actual results are coming out, investors are pricing in the reality.”
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.1 percent today. The measure slid 0.1 percent yesterday from a record high as earnings at companies from Citigroup Inc. to CSX Corp. disappointed investors.
Citigroup and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. led declines among banks after releasing fourth-quarter results. CSX, the biggest railroad in the eastern U.S., dropped 6.8 percent as profit missed analysts’ forecasts for the first time in two years.
Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the labor market continues to strengthen. Jobless claims decreased by 2,000 to 326,000, the least since the end of November, from a revised 328,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed yesterday. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 328,000.
Another report showed inflation in the U.S. climbed in December by the most in six months, led by gains in fuel and rents. The 0.3 percent increase in the consumer-price index was the biggest since June and followed no change the prior month.
China’s factory output and investment growth probably weakened in December, adding to signs the world’s second-largest economy is losing momentum as analysts forecast expansion in 2014 at the lowest in 24 years.
Industrial-production gains slowed to a five-month low of 9.8 percent and gross domestic product grew 7.6 percent from a year earlier in the October-December period, based on the median estimates of analysts before data due Jan. 20.
Sina Corp. and Sohu.com Inc. led declines in Chinese equities traded in New York yesterday as data showed some users opted for instant messaging applications over Twitter-like microblogs. The Bloomberg China-US Index of the most traded Chinese stocks in the U.S. lost 0.2 percent to 102.93.
The Asia-Pacific stocks gauge traded at 13.1 times estimated earnings as of yesterday, compared with 15.6 for the S&P 500 and 14 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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