Asian stocks fell this week, just the fourth weekly retreat this year for the regional benchmark, as the G20 warned Europe’s debt crisis still threatened global growth and as US economic data showed the recovery in the world’s largest economy was slowing.
Technology exporters led declines in Asia this week as companies from IBM Corp, the world’s biggest computer-services provider, to SanDisk Corp, reported disappointing results.
TPK Holding Co (宸鴻), a Taiwanese supplier for Apple Inc, led declines, falling 16 percent this week. Taipei’s benchmark index retreated 3.6 percent to close at 7,507.15 this week, its biggest drop since November last year.
HTC Corp (宏達電), Asia’s No. 2 smartphone maker, slid 13 percent to NT$462, as it reported its biggest drop in profit since its listing a decade ago earlier this month.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.7 percent to 124.21, erasing last week’s 0.1 percent gain. The gauge fell four out of five days this week. It has alternated between weekly gains and losses since March 2, when it finished a record 11-week winning streak. It has risen about 9 percent this year.
“I still think Europe overall is just buying time for its problem, which cannot be resolved in the short term,” said Alex Au, Hong Kong-based managing director of Richland Capital Management.
“From time to time in the next few years I think we will see panic situations. The market is very thin and liquidity is low, so if someone wants to push the market down it won’t be too difficult. Investors are holding a lot of cash,” he said.
Asia’s benchmark equity gauge has retreated 3.7 percent from the start of last month on speculation stock gains have outpaced the prospects for earnings growth after the index climbed 13 percent in the first two months of the year.
Shares on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index are valued at an average of 12.7 times estimated earnings, compared with 13.1 on the S&P 500 Index and 10.8 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index.
South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 1.7 percent, led by petrochemical companies after LG Chem Ltd missed earnings estimates.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.8 percent this week, even as exports grew at the fastest pace in a year last month and the yen fell against most of its major counterparts.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 1.5 percent this week amid speculation China’s policymakers would lower lending curbs to boost growth in the world’s second-largest economy. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index gained 2 percent this week.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1 percent as UBS AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co upgraded Australian mining stocks amid signs of improving economic growth in China. The lagging performance of the shares boosted views from strategists at the Swiss and US brokerages.
In other markets on Friday:
Manila fell 0.33 percent, or 16.82 points from Thursday, to 5,156.46.
Wellington fell 0.25 percent, or 8.96 points from Thursday, to 3,516.23.
Mumbai slid 0.74 percent, or 129.87 points from Thursday, to 17,373.84.