Singapore/Tokyo: Asian stocks fell for the first time in three days on concern a jump in oil prices will boost fuel bills in the world’s biggest economies, damping demand for the cars, computers and cell phones produced in the region. Toyota Motor Corp. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. declined.
“The growth momentum of companies including exporters may slow this year, discouraging investors from buying shares now,’’ said Haruo Otsuka, who oversees $870 million (Rs3,606 crore) at Toyota Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index lost 0.2% to 147.42 as of 10:41 am in Tokyo, snapping a two-day, 0.5% advance. Benchmarks fell across the region, except in Australia, South Korea and Taiwan.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average slid 0.6% to 17,345.22. Kao Corp., Japan’s largest maker of toiletries, fell after it forecast a drop in profit.
South Korea’s Kospi index rose to a record, led by Posco, after the Maeil Business Newspaper said Woori Bank may raise its stake in the steelmaker to help bolster its defenses against potential takeover bids.
Shares in the U.S. fell yesterday, dragging the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower for the first time in eight days, after the surge in crude oil and as concern mounted that home loan defaults will accelerate.
Toyota, Japan’s largest automaker, lost 0.8% to 7,350 yen. The company generated more than a third of its revenue last year in North America. Hynix, the world’s second- largest computer memory chipmaker, dropped 1.6% to 31,850 won.
Crude oil for June delivery climbed 2.8% to $65.89 a barrel in New York on concern shipments from Nigeria, Africa’s biggest producer, will be disrupted as complaints about the country’s presidential election spawn more violence. Higher fuel costs may hurt demand for Asian goods in the U.S. and Europe, the region’s biggest export markets.
Sony Corp., the maker of the PlayStation 3 game console, lost 0.3% to 6,470 yen. Creative Technology Ltd, a Singapore-based maker of MP3 music players that compete with Apple Inc.’s iPods, fell 0.5% to S$9.25.
Kao tumbled 3.2% to 3,280 yen, set for the lowest close since 12 January. It estimated yesterday that operating profit, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, will slip 5.7% to 114 billion yen ($962 million) in the year ending 31 March 2008, and net income will fall 6.4% to 66 billion yen.
Kao cited rising raw materials and sales-related costs as a reason for its forecasted profit decline.
In South Korea, the Kospi climbed 0.3%. Posco, the world’s fourth-largest maker, rose 2.2% to 396,000 won. Woori Bank may spend 170 billion won ($184 million) to buy a further 0.5% in Posco, Maeil reported today, citing an unidentified finance industry official.
Posco’s management has asked other local financial institutions, including the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, to buy shares, the report said.
Meanwhile, Hyundai Steel Co., South Korea’s second-largest steelmaker, climbed 1.7% to 39,900 won. First-quarter profit rose 36% from a year earlier to 101.9 billion won on increased exports, the company said yesterday after the close of trading.