Asian Stocks Drop, Heading for Three-Week Decline

Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark gauge posting the longest weekly slump since February, after U.S. stocks tumbled and as the majority of Japanese shares traded without dividend rights.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker by market value, lost 1.5 percent in Tokyo. PT Bank Mandiri tumbled 4.3 percent in Jakarta after Indonesia’s parliament passed a law scrapping direct local elections, ending a decade-long system of regional democracy. Fanuc Corp., a Japanese maker of industrial robots, surged 4.1 percent after increasing its annual profit forecast.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 1 percent to 142.11 as of 7:34 p.m. in Hong Kong, to an almost four-month low and extended this week’s retreat to 1.7 percent. More than $1.4 trillion has been wiped from the value of global shares this month amid concern Chinese economic growth is slowing and that the Federal Reserve may increase U.S. interest rates sooner than some investors are expecting.

“You’re going to have these little setbacks,” Brian Jacobsen, who helps oversee $232 billion as chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, told Bloomberg TV. “You are going to see some of this flight to safety. In this environment expect a little bit higher volatility, so you’re probably just going to have to hold your breath and ride it out. I would stay the course, overweighting riskier assets.”

Japan’s Topix index slid 1.1 percent with more than 1,000 companies from Toyota to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. trading without the right to their latest dividend. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.4 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent. The Hang Seng China AH Premium Index climbed to 98.09, signalling the smallest discount on Shanghai shares relative to their Hong Kong counterparts since a link between the cities’ exchanges was announced five months ago.

Indonesian Stocks

Indonesia’s Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite Index tumbled 1.7 percent, on course for its biggest fall in four months. The vote is a setback to incoming President Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, as he and parties supporting him had opposed it. The bill was sponsored by the “Red and White” coalition of losing candidate Prabowo Subianto.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.3 percent and South Korea’s Kospi index declined 0.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.5 percent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed after the underlying gauge yesterday posted its largest decline since July. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, known as the VIX, jumped 18 percent to 15.64 yesterday. That’s 16 percent higher than its average this year.

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