Sun, Jan 12, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Asian stocks fall as China outlook dimmed by data

KINGMAKER:Aside from weak economic data, other Chinese news affected the markets this week, namely the lifting of a console ban and talk of smoking curbs

Bloomberg and AFP

Asian stocks fell this week, with the regional benchmark gauge sliding the most in four weeks, as data from China added to concern about a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd (中國工商銀行), the nation’s biggest lender, dropped 2.2 percent in Hong Kong, where Great Wall Motor Co (長城汽車) also slumped 10 percent after a spokesman for the mainland producer of sports-utility vehicles and pickups posted a sales target that the company later denied.

In Seoul, NHN Entertainment Corp sank 13 percent after brokerages cut their target prices on the provider of online mobile games, while Japan Tobacco Inc also had a bad week, following reports that Beijing plans to ban smoking in public.

Among the stocks that rose this week, was Nintendo Co. The maker of Wii U game consoles, jumped 15 percent to ¥16,080 in Tokyo after Chinese lawmakers lifted a 13-year ban on gaming consoles and said they will draft rules allowing the machines to be made in the Shanghai free-trade zone.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.5 percent to 139.63, the biggest weekly drop since the five days ended on Dec. 13 last year.

Shares slid as data showed China’s services industries grew at a slower pace last month and factory-gate prices extended their longest streak of declines since the Asian financial crisis. Only three of the measure’s 10 industry group climbed this week.

“The market is trying to discount potential slower growth in China,” IG Investment Ltd portfolio manager Tim Leung said. “Momentum is slowing.”

Asia’s regional equities gauge has lost 1.2 percent so far this year, with markets in Japan and Hong Kong leading declines among major developed markets.

The gauge traded about 13.1 times estimated earnings — near the lowest level since September last year — compared with multiples of 15.6 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.8 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In Taipei, the TAIEX dropped 0.2 percent this week, after rising 0.17 percent, or 14.67 points, on Friday to close at 8,529.35, compared with 8,546.54 on Jan. 3.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) rose 0.99 percent to NT$102 on Friday, while smartphone maker HTC Corp (宏達電) fell 1.39 percent to NT$128.

Japan’s TOPIX slid 0.3 percent in the year’s first week of trading after surging 51 percent last year — its steepest rally since 1999 — while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average retreated 2.3 percent this week.

Japan Tobacco, which gets almost half its revenue from overseas, tumbled 6.6 percent to ¥3,195 after the South China Morning Post reported that China is aiming to ban smoking in public places.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index added 0.1 percent this week, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, also known as the H-share index, dropped 2.6 percent.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index sank 3.4 percent this week, amid concern that new share offerings will divert funds from existing equities after the government ended a ban on initial public offerings.

A gauge of China’s services industries decreased to 50.9 last month from 52.5 the previous month, HSBC Holdings PLC and Markit Economics Ltd said this week. A separate report showed that consumer prices rose 2.5 percent last month from a year earlier, missing the 2.7 percent median estimate of 41 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News, while a measure of producer prices fell 1.4 percent in its 22nd straight drop.

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