Stuart Kelly and George Hsu, Bloomberg
Sydney: Asian stocks fell for the first time in four days led by exporters after new-home sales in the US unexpectedly dropped, adding to concern growth in the world’s biggest economy is slowing.
Sony Corp., which made 70% of its sales overseas last year, and Samsung Electronics Co. led exporters lower. NTT DoCoMo Inc. paced a decline in Japan as the majority of the country’s shares traded without a dividend entitlement today.
“The US economy remains a concern to Asian suppliers,” said Barro Liao, who helps manage $2.7 billion (Rs11,645 crore) at PCA Securities Investment Trust Co. in Taipei. “A faltering US economy will not leave much room for growth in Asia.”
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index slid 0.7% to 145.22 as of 5:15 pm in Tokyo. Woodside Petroleum Ltd led an increase in energy stocks after crude oil yesterday rose 1% to $62.91 a barrel in New York. It was the only gainer among the benchmark’s 10 industry groups.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.9% while the broader Topix index lost 1%. Markets also dropped in Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. China’s Shanghai and Shenzhen 300 Index had its longest winning streak in three months. India is closed for a holiday.
Sony, the Japanese maker of the PSP portable game console and Cyber-shot digital cameras, fell 0.8% to 6,210 yen. Samsung Electronics, South Korea’s largest exporter, slid 0.7% to 580,000 won.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell for the first time in six days while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose.
New-home sales in the US dropped 3.9% to an annual pace of 848,000 in February. Economists had predicted they would rise to a 985,000 rate, according to a Bloomberg News survey. All 16 homebuilders in S&P’s indexes retreated. Snowstorms in the Midwest and Northeast may have restrained home sales and construction, economists said.
Rinker Group Ltd, the biggest supplier of cement blocks in the US, dropped 1.4 % to A$17.92 in Australia. Rinker gets about 80% of its earnings in America. Taiwan’s AU Optronics Corp., the world’s third-largest maker of liquid-crystal displays, lost 1.7% to NT$47.60.
“I wouldn’t be investing in anything related to the US housing industry for a while yet,” said Tom Murphy, who manages about $1 billion in Asian assets at Deutsche bank AG in Sydney. “It’s clearly going to be a troubled sector for some time.”
NTT DoCoMo fell 1.4% to 215,000 yen. The company, Japan’s largest mobile-phone operator, trades from today without the entitlement to a 2,000 yen dividend. Nissan Motor Co., the country’s No. 3 automaker, slid 2.4% to 1,297 yen after new buyers lost the right to its next 17 yen dividend.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s third-largest bank, with a 7,000 yen dividend, declined 2.7% to 1.09 million yen.
Of the 1,729 stocks included in the Topix, 1,303 today lost their entitlement to a dividend, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“This is the ex-dividend day and that is having an effect of about 90” points on the Nikkei, said Yoji Takeda, who helps manage $900 million at RBC Investment (Asia) Ltd in Hong Kong.
Woodside, Australia’s second-biggest oil producer, gained 2.1% to A$39.03. Inpex Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest oil explorer, rose 2.6% to 972,000 yen. PetroChina Co., China’s biggest oil producer, added 0.5% to HK$8.98 in Hong Kong.
The price of crude oil yesterday rose on signs US gasoline supplies fell for a seventh straight week. Oil was recently at $62.74 in after-hours trading.
Cnooc Ltd, China’s largest offshore oil producer, climbed 1.1% to HK$6.60 in Hong Kong. The company in two days may report 2006 net income of 29.8 billion yuan, an 18% increase on the previous year, according to the median of 11 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg.
Realtek Semiconductor Corp., a Taiwan-based chipmaker, jumped 2.1% to NT$74. The company will supply parts for an Apple Inc. product that enables Internet downloads to be shown on televisions, the Commercial Times said, without saying where it got the information.
Brokerages led China’s stocks to a seven-day rally, the longest since December, on speculation recent gains will boost trading and revenue.
Citic Securities Co., China’s biggest publicly traded brokerage, climbed 1.8% to 41.25 yuan. Hong Yuan Securities Co., its first publicly traded brokerage, advanced 3.2% to 21.67.
“Citic Securities benefits a lot from the booming market,” said Chen Shide, who manages the equivalent of $212 million at GF Fund Management Co. in Guangzhou. “Also, company earnings have met investors’ expectations so far.”
— With reporting by Patrick Rial and Makiko Suzuki in Tokyo, Zhang Shidong in Shanghai and Yidi Zhao in Beijing