Asian stocks outside Japan dropped as South Korean manufacturers dragged the gauge lower. The Topix index rallied in Tokyo as the yen weakened before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces a new cabinet tomorrow.
Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) sank 2.8 percent after South Korea’s biggest carmaker reported lower sales for August. Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest smartphone maker, fell to a two-year low. Tianhe Chemicals Group Ltd. dropped 4.9 percent before suspending trading in Hong Kong after Anonymous Analytics, a group that says it tries to expose corporate governance issues, rated the Chinese lubricant maker a strong sell. Nintendo Co., a Japanese maker of gaming consoles that gets most its sales abroad, gained 2.9 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index dropped 0.3 percent to 511.06 as of 4:10 p.m. in Hong Kong, set for its lowest close since Aug. 21. The Topix reached a seven-month high as the yen touched the weakest against the greenback since January. A measure of Asian equities that includes Japan traded yesterday at 13.7 times estimated earnings, after touching this year’s peak of 13.8 times last week.
“Shares are no longer dirt cheap but they’re not expensive either,” Shane Oliver, a Sydney-based global strategist at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which oversees about $131 billion, said on Bloomberg Television. “The broad environment for shares remains favorable. Valuations look OK and monetary conditions are very easy.”
South Korea’s Kospi index slipped 0.8 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index decreased 1.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed little changed. China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.4 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.4 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.1 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.5 percent. The nation’s central bank maintained borrowing costs at a record-low to support growth and spur hiring in an economy where unemployment is at a 12-year high. The decision was predicted by all 31 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Japan’s Topix jumped 1.1 percent, closing at its highest since Jan. 22. The yen touched 104.89 per dollar. Shares also gained amid speculation Yasuhisa Shiozaki, a politician in favor of reducing reliance on domestic bonds for the national pension plan, will be the next health minister. The post’s duties include overseeing retirement savings.
“If Shiozaki becomes the health minister, investors will think his appointment will lead to reforms at GPIF and other public pension funds,” said Masashi Akutsu, a strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “It’s favorable for the market.”
Hyundai declined 2.8 percent to 225,500 won in Seoul after saying car sales dropped 5.9 percent to 357,698 units in August from a year earlier. Kia Motors Corp., a unit of Hyundai, lost 0.8 percent to 60,100 won.
Samsung Electronics slipped 2.6 percent to 1.194 million won, the lowest close since September 2012. The company’s operating profit will continue to weaken in the this quarter amid heightened competition among smartphone makers, Shinhan Investment Corp. said in a report today.
Tianhe dropped 4.9 percent to HK$2.31 before suspending trade. The company “has no reply at the moment” to the Anonymous Analytics report, said Jonathan Yeung at Tianhe investor relations.
China Modern Dairy Holdings Ltd. fell 2.9 percent to HK$3.74. About 168 million shares were sold in a direct off-exchange transaction at HK$3.70 each, data tracked by Bloomberg showed. That’s at the lower end of the the HK$3.66 to HK$3.77 price sought by an undisclosed seller in deal terms obtained by Bloomberg.
Japanese exporters advanced as the yen slid. Nintendo jumped 2.9 percent to 12,075 yen. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), the world’s largest carmaker, gained 1.8 percent to 6,060 yen. Fanuc Corp., a supplier of industrial robots, climbed 1.7 percent to 17,640 yen.
Murata Manufacturing Co. (6981), a supplier of parts to Apple Inc., surged 5.4 percent to 10,675 yen in Tokyo. Credit Suisse Group AG raised its price target on the company to 12,000 yen from 11,500 yen and maintained its outperform rating.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.2 percent from their last close on Aug. 29. U.S. financial markets were shut yesterday for a holiday.
Ukraine warned of an escalating conflict in its easternmost regions as a rebel leader said talks this week may include negotiations for a truce. The country’s military will take on Russia’s “full-scale invasion,” Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey said on Facebook yesterday, a shift away from the government’s earlier communication that focused on an offensive against insurgents.
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