Asian Stocks Pare Weekly Advance; Japan Slips as Yen Strengthens

  • MSCI Asia Pacific Index heads for fourth weekly advance
  • Japan shares retreat for second day as yen strengthens

Asia stocks pared the week’s gains, with a benchmark measure retreating from its highest close in 19 months as investors mirrored selling by U.S. peers ahead of a three-day weekend for President’s Day on Monday.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.3 percent to 144.93 as of 5:20 p.m. Hong Kong time, led by consumer discretionary and phone stocks. Eight of 11 groups in the index dropped. The gauge is set for a fourth straight weekly advance after Thursday closing at its highest level since July 2015. Shares in Tokyo declined for a second day as the yen strengthened, with automakers and technology companies the biggest drags on the Topix gauge.

“We’re probably seeing some exhaustion as the markets have had a very strong go. We saw a bit of profit-taking in the U.S. overnight as there are no strong positive leads to move the market higher,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at Sydney-based AMP Capital Investors Ltd.

Odds for a U.S. rate hike in March slid to 36 percent from 42 percent on Wednesday, triggering a step back in the S&P 500 Index from a record close reached on optimism the U.S. economy can withstand higher interest rates.

Summary

  • Hang Seng China Enterprises Index -0.9%, Hang Seng Index -0.3%, Shanghai Composite -0.9%
  • Topix falls 0.4%, Nikkei 225 -0.6%; Toshiba -10% in fourth consecutive drop
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 -0.2% as health stocks lead declines
  • South Korea’s Kospi -0.1%; Taiwan’s Taiex -0.1%
  • Straits Times Index +0.2%, Philippines Stock Exchange PSEi Index -0.5%; Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite Index -0.5%, Thailand’s SET Index +0.1%, Malaysia’s KLCI Index little changed, India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index +0.6%
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