Asian Stocks Fall Ahead of U.S. Jobs as Materials Shares Slide

Asia’s regional benchmark index fell as materials companies led declines and investors awaited monthly U.S. jobs data. China’s stocks swung the most since 2010 as mainland turnover topped 1 trillion yuan ($163 billion) for the first time.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, retreated 1.5 percent in Sydney. Kunlun Energy Co. fell 2.1 percent in Hong Kong after Brent crude extended a four-year low. Haitong Securities Co. jumped the most on record in Hong Kong on talks to buy Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo de Investimento SA.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell less than 0.1 percent to 140.62 as of 4:43 p.m. in Hong Kong, on track for a loss of less than 0.1 percent for the week. The Shanghai Composite Index closed 1.3 percent higher today after erasing a 3 percent decline to post its best weekly gain since February 2009.

“The release of the U.S. jobs figure is likely to dictate caution amongst traders,” said Ric Spooner, Sydney-based chief markets analyst at CMC Markets Australia. “While the U.S. economy continues to expand at a moderate pace, there has been some patchiness in recent data including consumer confidence, personal spending and durable goods orders. Against that background, markets will be looking for assurance that the momentum of jobs growth is being sustained in the U.S.”

U.S. Economy

Today’s payrolls report may show U.S. employers added more than 200,000 jobs in November for the 10th straight month, while the jobless rate held at the lowest level since July 2008.

The Shanghai Composite Index swung 165 points in the first 90 minutes of trading. The gauge surged 21 percent over the past month, the most among 93 global equity indexes. The rally, which has coincided with increased leverage and a surprise interest-rate cut, is spurring mainland investors to open share accounts at the fastest pace in three years and sending trading values to record highs.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index today added 0.7 percent, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in the city climbed 1 percent to a nine-month high.

Yen at 120

Japan’s Topix index added 0.4 percent as the yen weakened past 120 to the dollar. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.6 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index and South Korea’s Kospi index were both little changed.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent changed after the underlying gauge slipped 0.1 percent yesterday, falling from an all-time high.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said yesterday the region’s central bank will reassess stimulus next quarter. Draghi’s comments damped speculation the central bank was poised to start a program of sovereign-debt purchases known as quantitative easing after policy makers kept interest rates unchanged. The ECB expects to consider a package of broad-based asset purchases including sovereign debt next month, two central-bank officials familiar with the deliberations said.

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