Sun, Sep 23, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Asian stocks dip over sea row, economic concerns

BATTLE OF THE GIANTS:The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid as the row between China and Japan turned into anti-Japanese protests, driving equities down

Bloomberg and AFP, HONG KONG

Asian stocks halted a two-week advance as an escalating territorial dispute between the region’s two biggest economies and signs of a deeper economic slump overshadowed unexpected stimulus from the Bank of Japan.

Toyota Motor Corp and Fast Retailing Co were among companies that fell this week after anti-Japanese protests in China forced the closure of factories and stores. Angang Steel Co dropped 8.3 percent in Hong Kong as data signaled China’s manufacturing slump might continue for an 11th month. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd surged 21 percent after Australia’s third-biggest iron-ore producer arranged to refinance loans.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.1 percent to 123.49 this week after gaining 4.9 percent in the previous two weeks. The gauge has advanced 5.4 percent this quarter.

“We’re very concerned about the near-term outlook for the global economic picture,” Peter Elston, Singapore-based head of Asia-Pacific strategy at Aberdeen Asset Management, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “There’s some fairly significant weakness just around the corner and that’s going to have a fairly big impact on corporates and markets.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific index has risen 6.5 percent since Sept. 6 after the European Central Bank started the latest wave of global easing, announcing unlimited bond purchases to curb the debt crisis. The Bank of Japan announced more asset purchases this week following the US Federal Reserve’s third round of quantitative easing.

The Asian benchmark trades at 12.8 times estimated earnings compared with 14.1 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.1 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index.

In Taipei, the TAIEX on Friday closed slightly up by 27.04 points, or 0.34 percent, at 7,754.59, as it encountered stiff technical resistance near the 7,800-point mark, dealers said. It closed the week just 0.2 percent up from last week’s 7,738.05.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.5 percent this week even after the nation’s central bank boosted asset purchases to buoy the economy. Japanese shares slid after a finance ministry report showed the nation’s exports declined for a third month last month.

South Korea’s KOSPI slid 0.3 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.5 percent in Wellington.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.3 percent.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila ended flat from Thursday, dipping 2.91 points to 5,292.06.

Wellington eased 0.25 percent, or 9.71 points, to 3,809.57.

Mumbai rose 2.2 percent, or 403.58 points, to 18,752.83.

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