Japanese Stock Futures Fall as Data Signal U.S. Slowdown

Japanese stock futures fell after data showed U.S. jobless claims rose and housing starts slumped, signaling a slowdown in the world’s biggest economy and damping the earnings prospects for exporters. Australian stock futures advanced.

American Depositary Receipts of Toyota Motor Corp, the world’s largest carmaker, dropped 0.9 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s biggest lender, declined 1.3 percent after the stock yesterday slid the most in a month. Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s biggest gold producer, may be active after gold futures capped the longest slump since 2011.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in June closed at 14,955 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 15,070 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 14,980 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.1 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slid 0.3 percent in Wellington.

“It’s not that the U.S. economy is improving fast, but it’s rather getting traction slowly with a mixed bag of economic data,” said Kiyoshi Ishigane, a Tokyo-based senior strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co., which oversees the equivalent of $70 billion. “The market is due for profit taking.”

U.S. Slowdown

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.1 percent today. The index fell 0.5 percent in New York yesterday after jobless claims jumped by 32,000 to 360,000 last week, the most since the end of March. Housing starts slumped 16.5 percent in April, the most since February 2011, the Commerce Department reported.

In Japan, machinery orders probably rose 3.5 percent in March after gaining 7.5 percent in February, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg ahead of the release of data at 8:50 a.m. in Tokyo.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 11 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 16 percent increase by the S&P 500 and a 10 percent rally by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Hong Kong markets are closed for a public holiday today. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese stocks in the U.S. slipped 1 percent yesterday in New York.

Gold futures for June delivery dropped 0.7 percent to close at $1,386.90 an ounce on the Comex in New York. The price fell for the sixth straight session, the longest slump since December 2011.

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