Asian Stocks Drop as China Industrial Output Growth SlowsAdam Haigh
Asian stocks fell, dragging regional equities lower for a seventh day, after the weakest growth in Chinese industrial output since 2008 added to evidence the world’s second-biggest economy is losing momentum.
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s No. 1 refiner, fell 6.8 percent in Hong Kong after agreeing to sell a 107 billion yuan ($17.5 billion) stake in its retail business, dragging energy firms to the largest decline among 10 industry groups on the regional index. KB Financial Group Inc. slid 5.2 percent in Seoul after Korea Economic Daily reported the board plans to recommend that Chairman Lim Young Rok resigns. Macquarie Group Ltd. gained 1 percent in Sydney after the bank said it will post higher profit this year due to increased fees.
The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index dropped 1.1 percent to 495.27 as of 6:33 p.m. in Hong Kong. Japanese markets are closed for a holiday. The measure, which posted the longest streak of declines since June 2011, slumped 2.5 percent last week, the biggest weekly loss since March.
“Chinese data for August indicates the latest soft patch is continuing,” said Shane Oliver, a Sydney-based global strategist at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which oversees about $131 billion. “Benign inflation readings for August suggest China has plenty of scope for further easing, which we expect in the months ahead. A correction would be healthy in allowing shares to let off a bit of steam and should be seen as a buying opportunity.”
China factory production rose 6.9 percent in August from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said Sept. 13 in Beijing, compared with 9 percent in July and the 8.8 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Retail sales gained 11.9 percent and fixed-asset investment in the January-August period increased 16.5 percent.
The data signal the impact of China’s property slump on the economy is deepening, with the decline in home sales accelerating last month and electricity output falling for the first time since 2009. The slowdown will test Premier Li Keqiang’s reluctance to spur growth with monetary stimulus, as risks multiply to his 2014 expansion goal.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in the city slid 1.6 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 1 percent. India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index lost 0.9 percent.
South Korea’s Kospi index and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 1 percent, while Taiwan’s Taiex Index slipped 0.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3 percent.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 0.2 percent. The underlying gauge dropped last week, ending the longest streak of advances this year, as speculation grew that the U.S. economy is recovering enough to justify higher interest rates sooner than anticipated.
The Federal Reserve, which begins a two-day policy meeting tomorrow, is assessing the strength of the economy as it winds down a bond-buying program that’s on track to end this year. The central bank has said since March that interest rates would stay low for a “considerable time” after it completes the asset purchases.
China Petroleum, or Sinopec as it is known, fell 6.8 percent to HK$7.25 in Hong Kong. The company will sell a combined 29.99 percent stake to 25 investors including Fosun International Ltd., run by billionaire Guo Guangchang. China Life will buy 10 billion yuan of shares while gas supplier ENN Energy Holdings Ltd. committed to 4 billion yuan. A fund backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., Asia’s biggest listed Internet company, is investing 10 billion yuan.
KB Financial slumped 5.2 percent to 39,000 won. The board will discuss the dismissal of Lim if the chairman refuses to resign voluntarily, the Korea Economic Daily reported. The firm confirmed the board will discuss the issue today.
Lynas Corp. tumbled 13 percent in Sydney to 13 Australian cents after the rare-earth miner ceased talks with Nomura Holdings Inc. on existing debt.
Among stocks that rose, Macquarie gained 1 percent to A$58.55 after Australia’s largest investment bank said profit in the six months to Sept. 30 will rise much as 30 percent from a year earlier. The result for the second half of the fiscal year to March 31, 2015, will be “moderately” higher than a year earlier, it forecast in a statement.