Asian Stocks Are Little Changed After Three Days of Declines

Asian stocks were little changed, after three days of losses, as materials and oil shares gained, while data signaled Chinese manufacturing shrank last month. The Shanghai Composite Index capped a five-day, 7.5 percent slump.

China Minsheng Banking Corp. lost 3.1 percent in Hong Kong after company President Mao Xiaofeng resigned and Caixin magazine reported that he is under investigation by authorities. China Railway Construction Corp. slid 9.9 percent in Shanghai after Mexico shelved a high-speed rail project that the company was expected to bid on. Japan Airlines Co. sank 2.1 percent in Tokyo after boosting its net-income forecast less than expected.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added less than 0.1 percent to 140.39 as of 4:25 p.m. in London, with consumer shares leading declines, while materials and energy companies advanced the most. The measure gained 1.8 percent in January, rebounding from two months of losses.

The China data “will be stoking hard landing fears that are ever present in market thinking,” said Evan Lucas, Melbourne-based market strategist at IG Ltd. “The fact new exports are also declining is a big issue on a macro-level. It illustrates that the lower growth in the global economy is impacting consumption of Chinese goods.”

China’s official purchasing managers’ index showed an unexpected contraction, data at the weekend showed, boosting prospects Asia’s largest economy will add to stimulus amid a wave of global monetary easing. The U.S. economy expanded at a slower pace than forecast in the fourth quarter as cooling business investment, a slump in government outlays and a widening trade gap took some of the luster off the biggest gain in consumer spending in almost nine years.

Asian Indexes

The Shanghai Composite lost 2.6 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index retreated 0.1 percent. Japan’s Topix index slid 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.7 percent as energy shares gained. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index and South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.2 percent.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.2 percent after the gauge last week posted its steepest slide since Dec. 12.

Gross domestic product in the U.S. rose an annualized 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, trailing the 3 percent growth estimate from economists and falling from 5 percent in the three months to the end of September.

The final reading of a Chinese factory gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics fell to 49.7 in January, a report showed Monday, after the government’s official measure fell to 49.8 from 50.1 in December. The reading missed the median estimate of 50.2 in a Bloomberg News survey of economists and fell for the first time since September 2012 below the 50 level that separates expansion and contraction.

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