Asian stocks fell for a fourth day on concern a meeting of European Union leaders this week will fail to tame the region’s debt crisis and as HSBC Holdings Plc (5) joined Citigroup Inc. in cutting growth forecasts for China.
BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s largest mining company, slid 1.4 percent as investors sold shares with earnings tied to economic growth. Nippon Sheet Glass Co. (5202), the company on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average that relies most on Europe for sales, fell 4.5 percent. Whitehaven Coal Ltd. (WHC) climbed 3 percent as the Australian Financial Review reported that billionaire Nathan Tinkler may offer more than $5 billion for the coal producer.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) fell 0.2 percent to 113.34 as of 5:09 p.m. in Tokyo, with about five shares declining for every four that rose. The gauge has dropped 0.5 percent this year amid concern economic growth in the U.S. and China is slowing as Europe’s crisis deepens.
“Investors expect a summit of European Union leaders this week to achieve little in solving the euro zone’s ongoing problems,” said Malcolm Wood, an equity strategist at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Australia in Sydney.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (TPX)’s drop this year compares with a 4.5 percent advance by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and a 0.7 percent decline by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index through yesterday. The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan has gained 0.3 percent. Stocks on the Asian benchmark are valued at 11.6 times estimated earnings, compared with 12.6 times for the S&P and 10.2 times for the Stoxx 600.
Futures on the S&P 500 gained 0.4 percent today. The index declined 1.6 percent in New York yesterday on concern this week’s European summit will fail to tame a crisis that put American earnings on pace for the first decline since 2009.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.8 percent and South Korea’s Kospi Index slid 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.1 percent.
BHP Billiton dropped 1.4 percent to A$30.63, leading shares lower on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index, which fell 0.4 percent. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-largest mining company, slid 1 percent to A$55.34.
Chancellor Angela Merkel hardened her resistance to euro- area debt sharing, setting Germany on a collision course with its allies at a summit starting on June 28.
In signs the debt crisis is worsening, Cyprus said it will seek a financial lifeline from the euro area’s firewall funds, and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras consented to the resignation of his finance minister, Vassilios Rapanos.
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded 28 Spanish banks, citing the country’s sovereign debt and rising losses on real- estate loans. The lenders’ long-term debt and deposit ratings were cut by one to four notches, Moody’s said yesterday in a statement. The New York-based rating company also downgraded 16 Spanish banks on May 17.
Italy and Spain will sell debt today amid concern Europe’s fiscal crisis is infecting bigger economies.
Exporters to Europe declined. Nippon Sheet Glass slid 4.5 percent to 85 yen. Sony Corp., a Japanese exporter of consumer electronics goods, retreated 2.9 percent to 1,102 yen. Makita Corp., a power-tool maker that makes 42 percent of sales in Europe, dropped 2.1 percent to 2,720 yen.
Oil fell below $80 a barrel for a third day in New York. Crude oil for August delivery declined 0.7 percent in New York yesterday.
HSBC downgraded its forecast for China’s 2012 growth to 8.4 percent from 8.6 percent, economists Qu Hongbin and Frederic Neumann wrote in note. That came after Citigroup Inc. cut its estimate for China’s growth this year to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent.
Whitehaven gained 3 percent to A$4.15. Tinkler may offer slightly above A$5 share, according to the report in the AFR, which didn’t say from where it got the information.
Seven West Media Ltd. tumbled 14 percent to A$1.70 after the owner of Australia’s most-watched television broadcaster named Don Voelte to succeed Chief Executive Officer David Leckie. Fairfax Media Ltd. (FXJ) fell 3.5 percent to a record low of 55 cents in Sydney after top shareholder Gina Rinehart said she may sell her stake in Australia’s second-largest newspaper publisher if she isn’t offered seats on the board.
News Corp. (NWS) climbed 2.4 percent to A$20.79 in Sydney as two people familiar with the situation said Rupert Murdoch is considering splitting his News Corp. media company into two businesses, one focusing on publishing and the other entertainment.
Nippon Electric Glass Co. sank 7.8 percent to 448 yen in Tokyo after saying it won’t earn any profit in the first quarter. The company cut its net-income projection to break even in the quarter ending June 30 on a drop in the value of investment securities. The glassmaker had earlier forecast a profit of 500 million yen to 3.5 billion yen.
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