Asian stocks down over US rate hike suggestion


Sun, Jun 29, 2014 - Page 15

Asian stocks fell on Friday, with the regional benchmark index paring its seventh straight weekly gain, as a US Federal Reserve official said they may raise interest rates by March.

Samsung Electronics Co, South Korea’s largest exporter of consumer electronics, was the biggest drag on the regional index, falling 1.1 percent, while Oracle Corp Japan lead losses among information technology shares after dropping 5.1 percent when its operating profit forecast missed estimates.

Bucking the trend was Ono Pharmaceutical Co, which jumped 5 percent in Tokyo to lead healthcare shares higher after a report said that its melanoma drug will be approved.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.3 percent to 145.04 as of 4:12pm in Hong Kong, with nine of its 10 industry groups falling. The measure closed at its highest level since June 2008 on Thursday en route to a 0.2 percent weekly gain.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 5.4 percent this quarter as of Thursday and measure traded at 13.4 times estimated earnings, compared with 16.6 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 and 15.3 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It’s a timely warning that the time for the Fed to start raising interest rates is drawing nearer,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management.

In Taipei, the TAIEX lost 0.15 percent, or 14.11 points, to end Friday on 9,306.83, compared with 9,273.79 on June 20.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) rose 0.8 percent to NT$125.50 on Friday, while Acer Inc (宏碁) slipped 1.85 percent to NT$21.20.

Japan’s TOPIX slipped 0.8 percent on Friday as the yen strengthened against the greenback.

A report yesterday showed that Japan’s inflation accelerated at the fastest pace in 32 years, swelled by a sales tax increase and higher utility charges. Consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 3.4 percent last month from a year earlier, the Statistics Bureau of Japan said, matching the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies traded in Hong Kong fell 0.3 percent, extending this week’s loss to 0.9 percent, as China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co (中國太平洋保險) fell the most in two months.

The seven-day repurchase rate, a gauge of interbank funding availability, climbed for a second week as banks hoarded cash to meet quarter-end requirements.

Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Co (中聯重工科技) fell 5.5 percent to a record low in Hong Kong after Citigroup Inc cut the stock’s rating to “sell” from “buy.”

In Seoul, the KOSPI fell 0.3 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.4 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.3 percent, with the market resuming after a technical fault halted trading at NZX Ltd, the operator of the country’s stock exchange.

Elsewhere in the region, Singapore’s Straits Times Index slid 0.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.1 percent.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila closed 0.73 percent lower from Thursday, easing 50.03 points to end on 6,842.15.

Mumbai rose 0.15 percent, or 37.25 points, to close at 25,099.92.