Asian Stocks Fall a Fifth Day on Slow China Growth, U.S. Rates

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Asian stocks fell for a fifth day amid heightened concerns about slowing Chinese economic growth and as investors weighed minutes from the Federal Reserve.

Origin Energy Ltd. plunged 13 percent in Sydney after Australia’s biggest electricity and gas retailer posted a full-year loss on asset writedowns. Oil explorers Cnooc Ltd. and Inpex Corp. dropped at least 2.9 percent as crude futures extended declines. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. fell 3.3 percent after Credit Suisse Group AG downgraded its rating on concern mounting competition and a slowing Chinese economy will undermine the airline’s growth.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index slid 1.5 percent to 133.97 as of 4:02 p.m. in Hong Kong, heading for the lowest close since December 2014. While the Fed’s minutes quelled speculation the central bank will raise rates at its next gathering, China’s shock currency devaluation continued to roil emerging-market assets, with concern China’s slowdown will limit global growth fueling a rout in commodities. Copper and oil sank to six-year lows this week.

“While the Fed is looking less likely to move in September, everybody is really worried that China is slowing down faster than what official figures are telling you,” Evan Lucas, a strategist at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “That’s putting pressure on industrial metals and emerging markets.”

Fear Factor

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slumped 1.8 percent, flirting with a bear market, as declines in mainland equities and the devaluation of the yuan erode support for the city’s shares.

“People are scared,” said Rahul Chadha, co-chief investment officer at Mirae Asset Global Investments in Hong Kong. “It’s the fear factor.”

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 3.4 percent amid concern a slowing economy and weaker yuan will spur capital outflows. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index sank 2.3 percent to the lowest close since November 2014.

Chinese stocks fell this week after the securities regulator indicated Friday that the state will reduce buying and data showed the richest traders were cashing out.

Japan’s Topix index slid 1.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 1.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 1.7 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.2 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 1 percent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.3 percent. The underlying measure fell 0.8 percent on Wednesday.

Odds on a September hike were further reduced Wednesday after the Fed minutes, with traders pricing in a 36 percent probability of an increase next month, down from more than 50 percent earlier in August.

U.S. policy makers said at their meeting in July that they need to see further improvement in the U.S. labor market and inflation rate before raising borrowing costs, the Fed minutes showed.