Singapore/Tokyo: Asian stocks fell as Japanese inflation and industrial production reports heightened concern about growth in the region’s biggest economy, and sliding metals prices dragged mining shares lower.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s largest lender, slid to the lowest in more than a year. BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s biggest mining company, dropped for the first time in five days.
“The growth momentum in the domestic economy is still weak,’’ said Shuichi Hida, who helps oversee $850 million (Rs3,454 crore) in assets at Plaza Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index slid 0.4% to 146.52 and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.4% to 17,360.00 as of 11:11 am in Tokyo, after earlier posting gains. Markets fell across the region, with the exception of Malaysia and New Zealand.
Declines were limited after better-than-expected earnings from Komatsu Ltd, the world’s second-largest maker of construction machinery, and Acer Inc., the world’s third-biggest computer supplier.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to a second straight record after 3M Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. reported profits that beat analysts’ estimates.
Mitsubishi UFJ lost 2.3% to 1.25 million yen, set for the lowest since 27 September 2005.
Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, declined 0.3% in March from a year earlier, the second straight monthly drop, the government statistics bureau said today in Tokyo. Factory output slumped 0.6%.
The Bank of Japan will probably keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.5% today and delay any increase for several months. Lenders won’t be able to increase the spread between what they charge for loans and what they pay for deposits unless the Bank of Japan increases interest rates.
BHP Billiton dropped 1.7% to A$29.72, while Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-biggest mining company, lost 1.1% to A$83.96. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Japan’s largest non-ferrous metal producer, declined 0.9% to 2,270 yen.
Copper prices fell the most in 12 weeks, with copper for July delivery dropping 2.7% on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, its biggest percentage decline since 2 February. Zinc, lead and aluminum also delcine.
Komatsu climbed 4.7%. Profit in the quarter ended in March climbed to 55 billion yen ($459.8 million) from 30.6 billion a year earlier as sales to emerging markets increased. For the year, Komatsu had net income of 165 billion, beating the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg by 15%.
Nintendo, the world’s biggest maker of handheld game players, said profit rose to 42.4 billion yen last quarter and to 174 billion yen for the year, 23% higher than analysts estimated. The shares rose 2.2% to 37,900 yen.
Acer rose 2.3% to NT$66.40, the highest since 23 March. First-quarter profit climbed 41% from a year earlier to NT$5.66 billion ($170 million), the company said yesterday after the close of trading. It was expected to post a profit of NT$2.3 billion according to the average estimate of nine analysts compiled by Bloomberg.
Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp., the world’s fourth-largest maker of liquid-crystal displays, advanced 2.4% to NT$37.95. The company, which posted a first-quarter net loss of NT$1.1 billion ($33 million), said yesterday that panel shipments in the current quarter will rise 15% to 20% from the preceding three-month period.