Asian Stocks Head for Second Weekly Loss on U.S. Outlook

Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index extending its second weekly loss, as improving U.S. economic data boosted bets the Federal Reserve will reduce stimulus as early as next week.

Zhaojin Mining Industry Co., China’s second-largest gold producer, declined 2.5 percent in Hong Kong as the precious metal traded near a five-month low. Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. lost 1.7 percent after the Japanese government said it plans to raise 153.3 billion yen ($1.5 billion) by selling shares in the company. Yokohama Rubber Co., a tiremaker that gets 45 percent of sales overseas, gained 2 percent as the yen touched the lowest against the dollar since 2008, boosting the earnings outlook for Japanese exporters.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.4 percent to 137.63, with nine of the 10 industry groups on the gauge declining. The measure fell 1.3 percent this week. Japan’s Topix index lost 0.3 percent, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 0.4 percent as the yen touched 103.92, a five-year low.

“With the prospect of tapering only days to weeks away, the global effect is starting to ramp up,” Evan Lucas, Melbourne-based market strategist at IG Ltd., said in an e-mail. “The unwinding of unconventional monetary policy is a good thing in the long term, however it will cause short-term vibrations.”

The Topix rose 44 percent this year, the most among 24 major developed markets tracked by Bloomberg, amid unprecedented stimulus by the Bank of Japan in support of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to end 15 years of deflation.

Regional Gauges

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.7 percent, halting a six-day losing streak, the longest since July 2012. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens signaled a weaker local currency is preferable to lower interest rates to help spur the nation’s economy. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.3 percent, and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.2 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite slid 0.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index increased 0.2 percent and Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.2 percent. India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index lost 1 percent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.3 percent today. The measure fell 0.4 percent yesterday after a report showed retail sales rose more than forecast in November as Americans bought cars and took advantage of discounts going into the holiday-shopping season.

A separate report indicated applications for unemployment benefits jumped last week from an almost three-month low. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index advanced for a third straight week as Americans grew more optimistic about the economy.

Fed Meeting

Data last week showed the U.S. jobless rate fell to a five-year low and the economy expanded in the third quarter at a rate faster than initially estimated.

The Fed will probably start reducing its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases at its Dec. 17-18 meeting, according to 34 percent of economists surveyed Dec. 6 by Bloomberg, up from 17 percent in a Nov. 8 poll.

The U.S. House passed the first bipartisan federal budget in four years, which would ease $63 billion in automatic spending cuts and avert another government shutdown. The legislation now heads to the Senate. Fed policy makers had cited the drag from fiscal policy in their Oct. 30 statement.

Relative Value

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 6.4 percent this year as central banks added stimulus to shore up growth globally. The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 13.6 times estimated earnings as of yesterday, compared with 15.99 for the S&P 500 and 14.62 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Kobe Bussan Co. gained 1.4 percent to 2,247 yen in Tokyo. The supermarket operator forecast full-year net income will gain 4.1 percent to 3.05 billion yen.

Yokohama Rubber climbed 2 percent to 1,005 yen as Japanese tiremakers advanced amid a weaker yen. Bridgestone Corp., Asia’s biggest tiremaker, added 0.5 percent to 3,785 yen.

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone lost 1.7 percent to 5,350 yen. The Japanese government will sell about 37 million NTT shares to fund the current fiscal year’s extra budget, a finance ministry official told reporters in Tokyo yesterday, asking not to be named, citing ministry policy.

JVC Kenwood Corp. gained 3.7 percent to 196 yen after the Nikkei reported the car-stereo maker will open a factory in China to produce automotive resin panels.

Mixi Inc. sank 17 percent to 5,060 yen, falling a third day, after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its recommendation on shares of the Japanese game and social network operator.

Gold explorers sank as the precious metal declined 2.1 percent in New York yesterday. Zhaojin Mining dropped 2.5 percent to HK$4.69 in Hong Kong. Evolution Mining Ltd. fell 4.3 percent to 56 Australian cents and Silver Lake Resources Ltd. retreated 2.3 percent to 42 Australian cents.

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