Sun, Oct 06, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Asia stocks decline amid concern over US impasse

OUTPERFORMER:Taiwan’s TAIEX bucked the regional downtrend, advancing for three straight days before consolidating on Friday as investors turned cautious

Bloomberg and staff writer, with CNA

Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index declining for first time in five weeks, amid concern that the US political impasse could lead to the government defaulting on its debt.

Toyota Motor Corp, Asia’s top carmaker, dropped 4 percent, pacing declines among exporters. Leighton Holdings tumbled 15 percent in Sydney after reports that former executives knew of alleged corruption at Australia’s biggest builder. BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s largest mining company, slipped 3.4 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 1.2 percent to 139.1 this week, led by raw-material producers and industrial companies.

US President Barack Obama canceled plans to attend two economic summits in Asia this coming week as a fiscal standoff with congressional Republicans kept the US government partially shuttered.

“The longer this political impasse goes on, the implications are greater,” Kelly Teoh, a strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, said by telephone. “We need to price in the impact that this will have on the US economy and that has a domino effect everywhere else. This will shave a lot of the US growth off.”

Valuations for the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell to 13.4 times estimated earnings on Friday from 13.7 times on Sept. 27, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 15.2 for the S&P 500 and 14.1 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, the data show.

Taiwan’s TAIEX bucked the regional trend by rising 1.6 percent this week to 8,364.55. The index advanced for three straight days and was little changed on Friday, as the electronics sector fell into consolidation mode, dealers said.

Turnover fell to some extent as investors adopted a wait-and-see attitude, watching closely how Washington will solve the debt limit problems by the middle of this month, they said.

“It was no surprise that many investors here took a pause today [Friday] after the local market jumped 1.73 percent yesterday. The market faces stiff technical resistance ahead of 8,400 points,” KGI Securities (凱基證券) analyst Eason Lee said.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) fell 0.95 percent to close at NT$104.00, while Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) lost 0.13 percent to end at NT$75.90. HTC Corp (宏達電) closed up 1.5 percent at NT$135, despite reporting a net loss of NT$3.58 per share for the third quarter, stock exchange data showed.

“HTC shares had been depressed by concerns over its bottom line for some time. The third-quarter results simply eliminated market uncertainty for now and called for some bargain hunters to come back,” Lee said.

Japan’s TOPIX slumped 4.4 percent this week, capping its longest losing streak since July last year. The Bank of Japan maintained its monetary policy at the end of a two-day meeting on Friday, as estimated by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he would raise the sales levy and prepare measures to soften its impact, including considering a reduction in taxes on businesses.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.9 percent after the central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low, saying earlier cuts are still filtering through the economy. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index dropped 0.5 percent.

South Korea’s KOSPI lost 0.7 percent after the country’s exports unexpectedly dropped last month. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.3 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 2.3 percent. China’s markets are closed for holidays until Tuesday.

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