Asian Stocks Decline as Investors Weigh Ukraine, Earnings
Asian stocks fell for a second day, with the Shanghai Composite Index capping its biggest weekly loss since January, as investors weighed escalating tensions in Ukraine and corporate earnings.
Omron Corp. slumped 6.4 percent in Tokyo after the maker of factory-automation equipment forecast full-year profit that missed estimates. China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co. fell 5.6 percent in Hong Kong to a record low after an investor sold HK$577.7 million ($74.5 million) worth of shares at a discount. Chugai Pharmaceutical (4519) Co. jumped 3.2 percent after the Japanese unit of Roche Holding AG reported first-quarter profit doubled.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.3 percent to 138.21 as of 8:20 p.m. in Hong Kong after rising as much as 0.3 percent. Almost two shares fell for each that rose on the gauge, which has dropped 0.7 percent this week after preliminary Chinese manufacturing data signaled persistent weakness in the world’s second-largest economy.
“While the Japanese results are good, a lot of the improvement is coming from the weaker currency rather than real demand,” Andrew Sullivan, director of sales trading at Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong, said by phone. “Investors are still cautious considering concerns about China’s slowdown and the Ukraine situation.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Russia is running out of time to comply with an accord to ease tensions in Ukraine, as Russian forces began new military exercises on the two countries’ border.
The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks traded in Hong Kong’s decreased 1.4 percent, while the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 1.5 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) lost 1 percent, extending a weekly loss to 2.9 percent, the most since Jan. 10. Investors are awaiting the nation’s industrial profit report over the weekend and official manufacturing data next week.
“There’s increasing concern about the China slowdown,” said John Vail, Tokyo-based chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management Co., which manages about $157 billion.“We went to neutral on equities at the beginning of March because of Ukraine and China’s troubles.”
South Korea’s Kospi index dropped 1.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.5 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index sank 1.9 percent. Markets in Australia and New Zealand were closed for a holiday.
Japan’s Topix index rose 0.4 percent, paring gains of as much as 1.1 percent. Data today showed Tokyo’s inflation jumped the most since 1992 after the national consumption-tax hike took effect on April 1.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index traded at 12.6 times estimated earnings, compared with 16 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Futures on the S&P 500 slid 0.3 percent. The U.S. benchmark gauge gained 0.2 percent yesterday as stocks rallied after Apple Inc. results topped estimates to offset a slump in phone shares.
Omron slumped 6.4 percent to 3,630 yen. The company said yesterday its expects full-year profit to increase 10 percent to 51 billion yen ($498.4 million), missing analysts’ expectations for a 52.8 billion-yen gain.
Kweichow Moutai Co. plunged 6.3 percent to 164.69 yuan in Shanghai after China’s biggest producer of baijiu liquor reported slower first-quarter profit growth.
Hyundai Motor Co. fell 2.5 percent to 236,000 won in Seoul, extending losses for a second day. South Korea’s largest automaker yesterday posted first-quarter profit that missed estimates as a stronger won eroded export earnings.
China Huishan Dairy sank 5.6 percent to HK$2.01 in Hong Kong. An Yu Investments sold 284.6m shares in the milk producer at HK$2.03 each, according to terms for the deal obtained by Bloomberg News.
Among shares that rose, Chugai Pharmaceutical climbed 3.2 percent to 2,603 yen. The maker of Tamiflu, a anti-influenza drug, said first-quarter net income increased to 18.8 billion yen ($184 million) from 8.9 billion yen a year earlier.
Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. rose 1.2 percent to 1,902 yen after projecting full-year profit that beat analyst estimates.
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