Asian Stocks Decline for Second Day to Head for Weekly Retreat

Asian stocks fell a second day, after Thursday dropping the most in almost two months, as industrial shares led declines. The Topix posted its first weekly decline in more than two months as Japanese equities went ex-dividend.

Sinotrans Ltd. tumbled 6.4 percent in Hong Kong, with the logistics provider leading a retreat among industrial companies. Toshiba Corp. sank 3.4 percent in Tokyo after rival SanDisk Corp. cut its sales forecast. Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. slumped at least 4.6 percent after agreeing to pay the most for wireless airwaves in India’s record 1.1 trillion rupee ($17.6 billion) sale of radio frequency spectrum to mobile-phone operators.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.5 percent to 146.68 as of 7:48 p.m. in Hong Kong. The measure slid 1.1 percent on Thursday and is headed for a 0.6 percent decline this week. U.S. equities fell for a fourth day Thursday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index erasing its 2015 advance, on concern stock gains had gotten ahead of the outlook for the economy and corporate profits.

“We’ve had a lot of weak economic data in the first quarter in the U.S.,” Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist in Philadelphia at Janney Capital Management LLC, which oversees about $68 billion, said on Bloomberg TV. “We’re expecting to see earnings decline in the first and second quarters of 2015. This is not a formula for why stock prices should be significantly higher from here. That’s what the markets are trying to evaluate and are struggling with it.”

Japan’s Topix index slid 1 percent, bringing this week’s losses to 1.8 percent. More than 1,440 of the 1,858 companies in the index traded from today without the right to the next dividend payment, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Profit-Taking

“Heading into the fiscal year-end, selling en masse is driving shares lower amid poor liquidity and a lack of news,” said Norihito Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. “Investors are taking profits in stocks that rose sharply recently.”

The nation’s core consumer prices rose 2 percent from a year earlier in February, data released by the statistics bureau Friday showed, missing economist estimates for a 2.1 percent increase. Stripped of the effect of a sales-tax increase last April, core inflation -- the Bank of Japan’s key measure -- was zero.

Taiwan’s Taiex index dropped 1.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was little changed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.7 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 0.4 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.5 percent.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent as rail and construction-related companies extended this week’s rally on prospects for improved earnings as the government accelerates overseas projects to support economic growth.

Oil Pares

Oil trimmed its biggest weekly advance in four years on speculation that air strikes in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its allies don’t pose a threat to ample crude supplies. Saudi Arabia led a coalition of 10 Sunni-ruled nations that bombed Shiite rebels on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. The situation is unlikely to have any near-term effect on global oil supplies, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

E-mini futures on the S&P 500 were little changed today. The U.S. equity benchmark index fell 0.2 percent yesterday as declines in consumer and transportation companies overshadowed a rebound in technology shares.

A report this week showed U.S. durable-goods orders unexpectedly fell in February, adding to signs the economy is struggling to shake off winter doldrums. Other figures this month showed housing starts slumped, industrial production cooled and retail sales weakened.

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