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Asian Stocks Retreat to Pare First Monthly Gain Since October

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Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark paring its firstly monthly gain since October, as earnings concern offset a drop in U.S. jobless claims. Chinese shares posted their biggest weekly decline in a year.

Computer-maker NEC Corp. tumbled 7.5 percent in Tokyo after operating profit missed estimates. Bank of Baroda slumped 11 percent in Mumbai as net income plunged. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. dropped 3.1 percent in Hong Kong on a report Macau will push for a complete smoking ban in all areas of casinos.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.2 percent to 140.23 as of 4:09 p.m. in Hong Kong. The gauge is heading for a 1.7 percent advance in January, led by a surge in Hong Kong shares. Regional stocks slid this week as NEC joined companies in the U.S. from Caterpillar Inc. to Qualcomm Inc. in disappointing investors.

“This season will be more tough and they’ll be lots of earnings misses,” said Sam Le Cornu, who oversees about $3 billion in Asian equities at Macquarie Funds Management in Hong Kong. “Earnings are going to be soft.”

Japan’s Topix index rose 0.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index slid 0.1 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.4 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.6 percent to cap a 4.2 percent weekly drop.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 3.8 percent in January, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. surging 17 percent amid optimism Asia’s second-largest Internet company will diversify its revenue sources. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8 percent this month after a regulator barred China’s three biggest brokerages from adding margin-trading accounts. The gauge surged 21 percent in December.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.3 percent. The underlying gauge advanced 1 percent yesterday, paring its January decline to 1.8 percent, its biggest monthly drop in a year.

Jobless claims in the U.S. plunged by 43,000 to 265,000 in the week to Jan. 24, the fewest since April 2000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The data came a day after the Fed boosted its assessment of the economy on improvements in the job market and declining fuel costs. The central bank substituted “strong” for “solid” in its evaluation of job gains.

Mobile carrier SoftBank Corp. fell 3.4 percent in Tokyo, following a slump in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in New York after the Chinese e-commerce giant reported worse-than-expected earnings yesterday. Softbank owns a 32 percent stake in Alibaba.