Asian Stocks Pare Advance as China Data Misses Estimates

Asian stocks pared gains, leaving the region’s equities little changed, after reports showed growth in China’s industrial output and retail sales missed estimates, adding to concern about the outlook for the economy.

Jiangxi Copper Co. rose 1.5 percent in Hong Kong, paring an advance of as much as 3.7 percent as the China data added to signs of an economic slowdown, making the government’s 2014 expansion target harder to reach. NCSoft Corp. jumped 8.6 percent in Seoul, its biggest increase since August 2009, after announcing plans to release an online game in the U.S. and Europe in June. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. slid 4.1 percent after the developer posted underlying profit that missed analyst projections.

“The markets are very fragile around China,” Peter Esho, Sydney-based chief market analyst at Invast Securities Co., said by phone. “Both industrial production and retail sales numbers today are soft, but not as bad as they could have been.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1 percent to 136.3 at 7:59 p.m. in Hong Kong, paring a gain of as much as 0.6 percent. China’s factory production increased 8.6 percent in the January-February period from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said today in Beijing, compared with the 9.5 percent median projection of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Retail sales advanced 11.8 percent, missing expectations for a 13.5 percent gain.

The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.1 percent, paring gains of as much as 1.6 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong lost 0.4 percent, erasing a 1.8 percent advance. The city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index dropped 0.7 percent.

Regional Indexes

Japan’s Topix index slid 0.3 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.5 percent, while Taiwan’s Taiex index climbed 0.7 percent. India’s S&P BSE Sensex added 0.4 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.5 percent. Companies in the country boosted full-time payrolls in February by the most in more than 22 years, signaling the central bank’s bid to spur local demand with record-low interest rates is gaining traction.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.3 percent after earlier falling 0.3 percent. The nation’s central bank raised its key interest rate, the first developed nation to exit record-low borrowing costs this year, and said it plans to remove stimulus faster than earlier forecast to contain prices.

South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.1 percent. The nation’s central bank left its key rate unchanged, supporting a rebound in growth as Kim Choong Soo gets ready to pass the reins to a new governor who will face risks from record household debt to U.S. monetary tapering.

Weekly Decline

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is heading for its first weekly decline in five weeks after disappointing Chinese credit and export data fueled speculation the world’s second-largest economy may miss its 7.5 percent expansion target.

The gauge trades at 12.8 times the estimated earnings of its constituent companies.

Raw material producers posted the biggest advance of the 10 industry groups in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. Jiangxi Copper added 1.5 percent to HK$12.02 in Hong Kong. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest mining company, climbed 2.7 percent to A$63.07 in Sydney. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. rose 3 percent to A$5.12.

NCSoft surged 8.6 percent to 215,000 won in Seoul. The company plans to release online game “WildStar” in the U.S. and Europe on June 3.

TSMC Surges

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract manufacturer of chips, surged 3.1 percent to a record NT$116.50 in Taipei after boosting its first-quarter sales forecast on stronger demand for mobile phones.

Among stocks that declined, China Overseas Land dropped 4.1 percent to HK$18.80. Profit excluding revaluations, or core profit, increased 20 percent from 2012 to HK$19 billion ($2.5 billion), the company said in a Hong Kong bourse filing. That was below an average estimate of HK$19.7 billion from a survey of 25 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

Chinese developers also fell after government data released today showed mainland home sales fell 5 percent in the first two months of the year to 598.5 billion yuan ($97.5 billion) from the year-earlier period. China Resources Land Ltd. slid 3.3 percent to HK$15.70. Country Garden Holdings Co. tumbled 11 percent to HK$3.56 after its shares were downgraded at UBS AG and China International Capital Corp.

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