Asian Stocks Decline as Energy Companies, Hong Kong Shares Slide

Asian stocks fell a third day, with energy producers sliding to the lowest in more than five years as oil extended its slump, while shares in Hong Kong tumbled.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, declined 5.3 percent, the biggest drag on the measure. Cnooc Ltd. slumped 5.5 percent to the lowest since 2009. Toyota Motor Corp. climbed 1.6 percent in Tokyo as a weakening yen boosted Japanese exporters.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.9 percent to 139.44 as of 4:13 p.m. in Hong Kong. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped below $65 a barrel amid a glut in supply, damping inflation expectations and pushing global commodity indexes to multi-year lows.

“Concerns about disinflation and deflation are being fueled by what we’re seeing in energy and commodity markets at this point in time,” Richard Gibbs, global head of economics at Macquarie Group Ltd., Australia’s largest investment bank, said in a Bloomberg TV interview in Sydney. “Clearly the decision by the Saudis to not even countenance a cut in production has strong geopolitical undertones.”

Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, was a driving force behind the 12-member group’s decision last week to hold production steady.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 2 percent, with a subindex that includes oil companies tumbling 6.4 percent. The energy gauge is at its lowest since December 2008. Materials and energy stocks account for about 20 percent of the benchmark equity measure.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 2.6 percent, the biggest drop since February. Police used batons, pepper spray and water hoses in Hong Kong to beat back attempts by pro-democracy protesters to expand their hold on a swathe of central Hong Kong, with the city’s leader warning that tolerance for the two-month protest was fraying.

A Chinese manufacturing gauge fell as factory shutdowns aggravated a pullback in the economy. The country’s official factory index fell to an eight-month low of 50.3 in November, below the 50.5 reading projected by economists, while a private gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics came in at 50, the border between expansion and contraction.

China will start an insurance system for bank deposits, the People’s Bank of China said in a draft rule on its website yesterday, a move toward scrapping remaining controls on interest rates and allowing lenders to fail in a more market-driven economy.

South Korea’s Kospi index dropped 0.8 percent. Japan’s Topix index rose 0.8 percent as the yen weakened 0.2 percent to 118.82 per dollar. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.1 percent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated 0.4 percent. The underlying gauge fell 0.3 percent on Nov. 28 as exchanges closed early following the Thanksgiving holiday.

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