Asia Stocks Decline for Fifth Day on Earnings Concern.
Asian stocks fell a fifth day, with the regional benchmark headed for its longest losing streak since May, amid concern a deepening global economic slowdown will weigh on earnings at companies from BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) to Advantest Corp. (6857)
BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, sank 0.6 percent in Sydney after Citigroup Inc. said slowing growth in China will hurt demand for iron ore. Advantest, a maker of memory-chip testers, slumped 3.7 percent in Tokyo after a leading U.S. manufacturer of semiconductor equipment cut its sales forecast. Chinese railway shares rose after Premier Wen Jiabao called for investment in the industry.
“There is less and less reason to get into the equity market,” said Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co., which oversees about $6.3 billion. “Stocks are becoming unattractive, with U.S. earnings that are not so great and with ongoing Europe debt concerns. Uncertainties about the outlook for global demand are weighing on the market.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) fell 0.1 percent to 116.45 as of noon in Tokyo after sliding as much as much as 0.5 percent. About four stocks fell for every three that rose in the gauge.
Asia’s equity benchmark has lost about 2.3 percent since July 4 as the U.S. unemployment rate failed to improve and imports to China grew at about half the pace forecast by economists. Stocks in the index are valued at 11.8 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.9 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 10.7 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.4 percent as the yen rose to a five-week high against the euro before a Bank of Japan policy decision tomorrow. Trading volume on Japan’s benchmark index was about 14 percent below the 30-day intraday average.
South Korea’s Kospi Index declined 0.4 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed after confidence among the country’s consumers rose to a five-month high.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 0.3 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index increased 0.1 percent.
Semiconductor-related stocks sank in Asia after U.S.-based Applied Materials Inc., a chipmaking-equipment provider, cut its fiscal 2012 sales and profit forecasts amid weakness in demand from Europe and China.
China needs to maintain “a certain amount” of economic growth, Premier Wen said, according to a State Council statement posted on the central government’s website today that called for private investment in railways, public utilities, energy, telecommunications, healthcare and education.