Sun, May 27, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Key Asian stock index plummets to 2008 levels

Bloomberg and AFP, HONG KONG

Asian stocks fell for a fourth week, with the regional benchmark index posting its longest streak of weekly losses in six months, on signs China’s economic slowdown were deepening and on concern Europe’s debt crisis would worsen.

The value of shares on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell to levels last seen during the 2008 global credit crunch, with Japan’s Topix posting its longest streak of weekly losses in almost 35 years.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.8 percent to 111.65 this week. The gauge is heading for a decline of more than 10 percent this month, the most since October 2008, as slumping loan demand and faltering factory output in China add to signs the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy is deepening, and as Europe’s leaders pressured Greece to honor commitments to aid packages before next month’s elections.

“The market is right now confused and obviously worried about whether Greece will end up leaving the euro or not,” said Nader Naeimi, head of dynamic asset allocation at AMP Capital Investors. “The market is pretty convinced Greece will leave at some stage, but the big difference is if their exit will be orderly or disorderly, and an orderly exit has already been priced into the market.”

The losses erased as much as US$4.5 trillion in global equity value this month. The value of shares on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell to 1.2 times book, a level last seen in October 2008, a month after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc collapsed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 2.1 times for Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 1.3 times for the STOXX Europe 600.

“The Lehman shock continues to haunt the market,” said Koji Toda, chief fund manager at Resona Bank Ltd in Tokyo. “Investors are vulnerable to the unknown and they worry that if they underestimate the Greek issue, things may fall apart.”

Japan’s Topix declined 0.5 percent as it fell for an eighth week, its longest losing streak since November 1977, after the Bank of Japan refrained from adding more monetary stimulus. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.4 percent.

In Taipei, the TAIEX fell 1.1 percent this week to 7,071.63, its third week of declines.

Taiwanese computer makers declined after bellwether Dell Inc forecast fiscal second-quarter sales that were lower than analysts’ estimates. Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) fell 3.4 percent to NT$286, while Quanta Computer Inc (廣達) sank 2.8 percent to NT$75.50.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index fell 0.5 percent, extending losses from its Feb. 29 peak to 19 percent, near the 20 percent decline that traders consider a bear market. The Hang Seng Index slipped 1.3 percent.

Chinese lenders declined as reports showed the nation’s manufacturing would shrink for a seventh month and the country’s biggest banks could miss loan targets for the first time in seven years.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila rose 0.44 percent, or 21.75 points, from Thursday to 4,925.97.

Wellington was down 0.28 percent, or, 9.96 points, from Thursday at 3,486.23.

Mumbai slid 0.03 percent, or 4.48 points, from Thursday to 16,217.82.

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