Asian stocks fell for a second week for the first time since June, on concern the US would attack Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad against his own people.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.9 percent to 130.18, the first back-to-back weekly loss since the first week of June, widening its retreat last month to 1.6 percent.
“If you get a strike on Syria that would create a lot of risk for investors,” Nader Naeimi, Sydney-based head of dynamic asset allocation at AMP Capital Investors Ltd said by phone on Friday. “We’re getting a correction that the market needs to bring down expectations.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index trades at 12.7 times estimated earnings compared with multiples of 14.8 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.6 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Asia-Pacific gauge rose 0.6 percent this year, lagging a 14.5 percent surge for the S&P 500, as growth slows in China and speculation that the US Federal Reserve will curb economic stimulus spurs investors to sell assets across Asia and emerging markets.
Taiwanese equities surged on Friday to close above the 8,000-point mark, as bargain-hunters rushed to pick up large-cap stocks in the wake of a rebound staged on Wall Street overnight, dealers said.
Leading electronics stocks, particularly in the semiconductor sector, attracted buying after Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體) priced its US$400 million overseas convertible bonds at a 30 percent premium over its share price, they said.
Buying spread to the old economy and financial sectors in anticipation of the latest index adjustments by MSCI Inc to raise Taiwan’s weighting in three of its indices set to take affect after market closing, they added.
The weighted index closed the week up 1.9 percent at 8,021.89, but down 1 percent for the month, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed.
Equities across emerging markets in the region led declines last month, as policymakers grappled with slowing economies, plunging currencies and an accelerating outflow of investor cash. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 1.4 percent, while Thailand’s SET Index tumbled 3.3 percent. Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite Index edged up 0.6 percent.
Australia was the only developed market in the Asia-Pacific region to post an advance last month, rising 0.4 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index posted the largest decline, retreating 6 percent. Japan’s TOPIX lost 2.3, its fourth monthly decline and longest losing streak since 2008.
In other markets on Friday:
Wellington climbed 0.45 percent, or 20.47 points, from Thursday to 4,540.97.
Mumbai closed up 1.19 percent, or 218.68 points, at 18,619.72.