Asian stocks fell for the first time in five days after a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine and Israel sent troops into Gaza, spurring demand for haven assets.
Malaysian Airline System Bhd sank 11 percent in Kuala Lumpur, while Toyota Motor Corp fell 0.7 percent in Tokyo, accounting for the largest drag on the regional benchmark index.
In Sydney, Asciano Ltd, which provides transport services to the mining industry, surged 3.8 percent after saying that it is in talks to sell part of its logistics unit.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.3 percent to 146.79 as of 8:07pm in Hong Kong after all of its 10 industry groups retreated, paring this week’s advance to 0.6 percent. The regional gauge followed losses in Europe and the US after Ukraine’s government claimed that pro-Russia rebels shot down the passenger jet over disputed territory, killing all 298 people on board. Equities in New York extended a retreat in the last hour of trading as Israel sent ground forces into Gaza.
“Geopolitical risks have resurfaced, sparking a selldown in global share markets and a flight to quality assets,” said Matthew Sherwood, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Perpetual Ltd.
In Taipei, the TAIEX fell 0.08 percent on Friday to close on 9,400.97, compared with 9,495.84 on July 11.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) fell 0.8 percent to NT$123.5 while smartphone maker HTC Corp (宏達電) rose 2.94 percent to NT$140.
In Tokyo, the TOPIX slid 0.8 percent as Toyota declined to ￥6,006, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index and South Korea’s KOSPI both lost 0.1 percent.
Elsewhere in the region, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.2 percent, the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index dropped 0.5 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.1 percent.
Also on Friday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.3 percent, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of Chinese stocks lost 0.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index on Thursday traded at 13.5 times estimated earnings, touching the highest since December last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 16.5 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
“Certainly, today’s news of the aeroplane disaster in the Ukraine, of Israel moving into Gaza, this is not conducive to the investment climate that all of us need,” Sam Walsh, chief executive officer of Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-biggest mining company, said on Friday at a B-20 forum of business leaders in Sydney.
Rio shares fell 0.7 percent to A$64.29.
Malaysian Air lost 11 percent to 20 sen. The loss of the passenger jet follows the disappearance of another of the carrier’s flights on March 8.
The Bloomberg World Airlines Index fell 0.3 percent, following a 2 percent tumble on Thursday amid speculation that the crash will deter would-be passengers from flying.
In other markets on Friday:
Mumbai finished on 25,641.56 points after gaining 80.40, or 0.31 percent, from Thursday.
Manila shed 14.29 points, or 0.21 percent, to close on 6,853.07.
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