Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index set for its biggest drop in a month, led by mining companies as commodities slumped on concern weaker global economic growth will crimp demand for raw materials.
BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s biggest miner, sank 4.3 percent in Sydney. LG Display Co., which supplies touch screens for Apple Inc., dropped 4.8 percent in Seoul after audio-chip maker Cirrus Logic Inc. reported an inventory glut that suggests iPhone sales may fall short of expectations. Softbank Corp., Japan’s third-largest wireless carrier, lost 1.6 percent as a rival’s bid for Sprint Nextel Corp. gained shareholder support.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 1.1 percent to 135.85 as of 7:19 p.m. in Tokyo, heading for its biggest drop since March 18. All 10 industry groups fell on the gauge, which is set for its third decline in four days after China’s economy expanded less than economists estimated. The International Monetary Fund this week cut its global growth forecast as Europe sinks deeper into recession.
“Weak corporate earnings results and renewed concerns about the global economy saw traders switch to a risk-off mode,” said Matthew Sherwood, Sydney-based head of markets research at Perpetual Investments, which manages about $25 billion.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) advanced 6.2 percent this year through yesterday amid signs the U.S. economy is recovering and as Japanese shares rallied on optimism the Bank of Japan will step up efforts to stimulate the economy. Shares on the gauge traded at 13.8 times average estimated earnings compared with 14 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Japan’s Nikkei 255 Stock Average fell 1.2 percent as the yen swung between gains and losses. The benchmark last week climbed to the highest since July 2008.
South Korea’s Kospi index declined 1.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index sank 1.6 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index dropped 0.8 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index lost 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.3 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.3 percent. The gauge yesterday dropped 1.4 percent amid disappointing earnings results by companies from Bank of America Corp. to Textron Inc. U.S. stocks are poised for a “spring break” that will bring losses to investors as economic growth slows and corporate earnings weaken, according to Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equity strategist at UBS AG.
Raw-material producers posted the biggest decline among the 10 industry groups in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index as copper futures headed for the lowest price since October 2011.
Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer of the metal, fell 2.5 percent to HK$14.90 in Hong Kong. Rio Tinto Group (RIO), the world’s No. 2 mining company, sank 4.6 percent to A$52.07 in Sydney.
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., Australia’s third-biggest iron ore exporter, tumbled 7.8 percent to A$3.43. The company said its third-quarter shipments of the steelmaking material rose 61 percent, missing analyst estimates.
BHP sank 4.4 percent to A$30.65. The company said today it will pay its income chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie less than his predecessor at a time of declining commodity prices and revenue for the industry.
Japanese exporters dropped. Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker, slipped 2.2 percent to 5,430 yen. Fanuc Corp., a supplier of industrial robots, slid 2.3 percent to 14,870 yen. Camera maker Nikon Corp. fell 2.1 percent to 2,125 yen.
Apple suppliers declined after Cirrus yesterday posted preliminary first-quarter net revenue that missed analyst estimates due to high inventories. Apple accounts for more than 90 percent of Cirrus’s revenue, according to supply chain estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
LG Display dropped 4.8 percent to 29,800 won in Seoul. Murata Manufacturing Co., a supplier of capacitors, slid 2.3 percent to 7,920 yen in Tokyo. AAC Technologies Holdings Inc. (2018), which makes speakers for the iPhone, decreased 3.4 percent to HK$36.90 in Hong Kong.
Softbank slid 1.6 percent to 4,345 yen in Tokyo. Dish Network Corp.’s $25.5 billion proposal to take over Sprint is better than a board-endorsed offer by Softbank, investor Omega Advisors Inc. said yesterday, joining billionaire John Paulson in praising the bid.
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