Asian Stocks Fall First Day in Four as Commodity Shares Retreat

Asian stocks fell, with a regional gauge posting its first decline in four days, as commodity shares slumped.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, slid 3.5 percent in Sydney after yesterday capping its biggest four-day rally since October 2011. Zijin Mining Group Co. dropped 2.7 percent in Hong Kong after its controlling shareholder reduced its stake in China’s No. 1 gold producer. Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. tumbled 6.2 percent as South Korea’s second-largest shipping line said it plans to sell 238 billion won ($216 million) of new shares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index slid 0.7 percent to 462.42 as of 7:02 p.m. in Hong Kong. Japanese markets are closed for a holiday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average closed yesterday at all-time highs as U.S. shares rallied for a fourth day after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last week the central bank will likely hold key rates near zero at least through the first quarter. S&P 500 futures were little changed today.

“The commodity-share rally was always expected to be short-lived,” Ryan Huang, a market strategist at IG Ltd. in Singapore, said by phone. “It was not sustainable with fundamentals largely unchanged. Investors are taking the rally as an opportunity to cash out and sell.”

Brent crude oil slipped 2.1 percent to $60.11 a barrel in London yesterday after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said OPEC’s biggest producer will seek to maintain market share and that global demand growth this year was slower than expected. A gauge of metal futures in London dropped for a fifth day in six days.

China Slump

The Shanghai Composite Index declined 3 percent, retreating from a four-year high, amid concern a world-beating rally over the past month was excessive relative to the outlook for the economy. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks traded in Hong Kong slid 0.6 percent.

“Investors are taking profit after the surge recently,” said Zhou Lin, an analyst at Huatai Securities Co.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.3 percent. Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co., which raised HK$28.8 billion ($3.7 billion) in the Asia-Pacific region’s second-biggest initial public offering this year, lost 2.6 percent on the property developer’s first trading day in the city.

South Korea’s Kospi Index fell 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 1.1 percent after climbing to a one-month high yesterday. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.2 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index was little changed. Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.1 percent.

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