Asian stocks ended the week almost unchanged as the IMF said risks of a slowdown in Chinese growth are increasing while the US Federal Reserve allayed concerns that the US is planning to curb stimulus.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told a US House of Representatives committee there was no preset course for the US central bank’s asset purchases, tempering speculation the Fed would begin to trim its US$85 billion-a-month bond-buying program as early as September.
GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd surged 13 percent this week on speculation that tariffs on polysilicon shipped to China will cut supplies from the US and South Korea, boosting earnings at the world’s largest maker of materials used in solar panels.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) the world’s largest contract manufacturer of chips, slumped 11 percent after forecasting sales that trailed analysts’ estimates.
Nissan Motor Co, a Japanese carmaker that gets about 80 percent of sales abroad, climbed for a third week as the yen weakened against the US dollar.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index ended the week at 134.93, up from 134.88 on July 12, to continue its longest streak of gains since the week ending on March 15.
Gains on the benchmark regional equities gauge were limited to 4.3 percent this year, compared with an 18 percent surge on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as concern mounted that a manufacturing slowdown in China and the worst cash shortage in a decade may curb earnings growth.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is trading at 13.2 times average estimated earnings, compared with 15.3 for the S&P 500 and 13.4 times for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
For the week, the TAIEX — led by TSMC — dropped 1.9 percent, ending at 8,062.03 on Friday from 8,220.49 on July 12.
TSMC tumbled 11 percent to NT$98.20 as the Hsinchu-based firm forecast third-quarter sales of as much as NT$164 billion (US$5.5 billion) in the three months ending on September, compared with the NT$164.5 billion average of 25 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg before the announcement. The chipmaker is the largest company on the TAIEX, comprising 11 percent of the benchmark.
Other big names that fell on Friday included smartphone maker HTC Corp (宏達電), which fell by the daily limit of 7 percent to NT$168.5, and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (鴻海精密), which shed 0.77 percent to NT$77.4.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.4 percent, China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.3 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI advanced 0.1 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index ended the week little changed as the Reserve Bank of Australia said the Australian dollar’s decline and interest rate cuts meant its policy setting was appropriate even as it maintained room for future reductions, according to minutes of its July 2 meeting. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.7 percent.
The TOPIX climbed 0.8 percent this week, a fifth straight weekly gain in the biggest such advance since April 2009 and the longest winning streak since February.
Japanese shares topped gains this year among 24 major developed equity markets tracked by Bloomberg News. The TOPIX surged 41 percent and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average soared 40 percent this year as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda push to stoke inflation to 2 percent.
China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, expanded 7.5 percent in the three months to June 30, a report showed on Monday.
The IMF on Wednesday said risks are increasing that China’s economic growth will fall short of the institution’s 7.75 percent annual forecast as it urged the nation to follow reforms to sustain expansion.
“There appears to be very little to stop the growth slowdown in China,” Matthew Sherwood of Perpetual Investments said.
In other markets on Friday:
Manila closed 0.41 percent lower than on Thursday, giving up 27.33 points to 6,621.02.
Wellington eased 0.55 percent, or 25.08 points, to 4,538.31.
Mumbai rose 0.11 percent, or 21.44 points, to 20,149.85 points.