Asian stocks had their biggest weekly drop since September as investors awaited data on Chinese retail sales and industrial production.
Chinese shares slid after a report Fosun International Ltd (復星國際) chairman Guo Guangchang (郭廣昌) was missing added to concerns that slowing economic growth, a weakening yuan and an anti-corruption campaign is clouding the outlook for corporate profits.
In a choppy final trading day of the week, Japanese shares rallied, while equities in China retreated.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.3 percent to 129.4, taking its weekly drop to 2 percent, a third weekly retreat. The gauge is down 6.2 percent this year as a rout in commodities and slowing Chinese growth weighs on the earnings prospects of companies from Sydney to Tokyo, before a US Federal Reserve decision next week on whether to raise interest rates.
“Asian markets had a mixed day to end the week,” said Angus Nicholson, Melbourne-based market analyst at IG Ltd. “Japanese markets have clearly reached levels where investors are happy with valuations again. Chinese markets were spooked by the ‘disappearance’ of Fosun’s chairman, quite likely by China’s anti-corruption department.”
The billionaire founder of the Chinese conglomerate has become unreachable, Caixin magazine reported on its Web site, citing people it did not identify. Fosun’s stock tumbled more than 11 percent to US$1.55 in over-the-counter trading in New York on Thursday, the biggest decline since August.
Bonds in Fosun International fell by a record and the company suspended its shares in Hong Kong after the report, while other mainland stocks with ties to Fosun also requested halts.
“Since lots of senior managers have gone missing like this case, it has negative implications on the market even though nobody knows what has happened,” said Ronald Wan, chief executive at Partners Capital International in Hong Kong. “Investors tend to be more cautious now.”
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 1.1 percent, extending a weekly loss to 3.5 percent, the most in 14 weeks. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.6 percent on Friday.
Chinese retail sales likely rose 11.1 percent last month from the previous year, after an 11 percent gain the month before, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Industrial production is expected to advance 5.7 percent, up from 5.6 percent in October.
In Taipei, the TAIEX took another beating on Friday to end below the 8,200-point mark amid fears that foreign institutions would continue to move funds out of the local equity market after a recent heavy sell-off, dealers said.
Many investors appeared reluctant to keep their holdings and continued to dump stocks, in particular big-cap issues, amid rising political uncertainty as the presidential election approaches, they said.
However, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海) bucked the downtrend in the broader market to move higher after the world’s largest contract electronics maker a day earlier reported record-high sales for last month, they added.
The assembler of iPhones and iPads for Apple Inc gained 0.24 percent to close at NT$83.10 after it reported consolidated sales of NT$517.52 billion (US$15.7 million) for last month, up 2.89 percent from October.
The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange closed down 1.2 percent lower at 8,115.89 on Friday. It was also down 3.4 percent from 8,398.60 from the previous week.
Japan’s TOPIX added 0.6 percent and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rallied 1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.2 percent, while New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 0.5 percent.
South Korea’s KOSPI lost 0.2 percent, Singapore’s Straits Times Index declined 0.5 percent and India’s S&P BSE SENSEX Index retreated 0.8 percent.
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