Asian stocks fell, with a regional index posting its worst week in five months, amid concern Greece could be forced out of the euro and that austerity plans needed to contain the eurozone debt crisis will be derailed.
Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd (中國工商銀行), the world’s largest lender by market value, sank 4.5 percent in Hong Kong this week as the nation’s export growth slowed. Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (和記黃埔有限公司), which operates ports in Spain and Germany, declined 5.6 percent in Hong Kong. Sony Corp fell 11 percent to the lowest in more than 31 years after the maker of Bravia televisions and PlayStation game consoles forecast profit that lagged analyst estimates by half.
“Europe remains the biggest issue facing markets,” said Andrew Pease, Sydney-based chief investment strategist for the Asia--Pacific region at Russell Investment Group.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 4.4 percent to 118.61 this week. That’s the steepest weekly slide since the last week of November last year as France’s political changes and instability in Greece threaten to derail austerity plans and worsen Europe’s debt crisis. Stocks extended losses -yesterday as JPMorgan Chase & Co said it had a US$2 billion trading loss.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 2.3 percent. A report released on Wednesday showed the nation’s exports rose less than economists’ estimates last month, putting pressure on policymakers to pledge stimulus measures to boost growth. Industrial output in the world’s second-largest economy rose 9.3 percent from a year earlier last month, a government report showed yesterday.
Chinese lenders and shipping companies dropped. ICBC, as China’s biggest bank is known, slipped 4.5 percent to HK$4.89. China Construction Bank Corp (中國建設銀行), the second-largest, slipped 5.9 percent to HK$5.59. China COSCO Holdings Co (中國遠洋控股股份有限公司), the nation’s No. 1 shipping line, tumbled 14 percent to HK$3.86.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 2.5 percent, while South Korea’s KOSPI index dropped 0.7 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average slid 4.6 percent, a sixth consecutive weekly loss.
In Taiwan the benchmark TAIEX fell 1.1 percent to 7,401.08, headed for the lowest close since Jan. 18. The index sank 3.9 percent this week, poised for the biggest loss since the period to Nov. 26.
In other markets on Friday:
Manila closed 0.65 percent, or 33.96 points, lower from Thursday at 5,158.14.
Wellington fell 0.59 percent, or 20.99 points, from Thursday to 3,548.06.
Mumbai was down 127.07 points, or 0.77 percent from Thursday to 16,292.98 — its fourth straight day of losses and a near four-month-low.