Singapore/Tokyo: Asian stocks fell for the first time in four days after slides in U.S. home sales and consumer confidence fueled concern demand will cool in the region’s biggest export market.
Toyota Motor Corp., which gets a third of its sales from North America, and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Taiwan’s largest electronics exporter, led declines.
Sales of previously owned homes fell to the lowest in almost four years and consumer confidence slumped to an eight- month low, according to reports in the U.S., where the Federal Reserve has kept its key interest rate at a six-year high for the past seven meetings. Japan’s sales to the U.S. grew last month at the slowest pace in two years, government figures show.
“We are now seeing the main impact from past Fed rate increases with weak figures coming out of the U.S.,’’ said Kiyoshi Ishigane, who helps oversee $61 billion (Rs2,48,575 crore) in assets at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Exporters will be particularly cautious with their forecasts because of concern about the slowing U.S. economy.’’
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index lost 0.7% to 146.80 as of 10:49 am in Tokyo, ending a three-day, 0.6% advance. Benchmarks fell across the region, with the exception of the Philippines. Markets in Australia and New Zealand are closed for holidays today.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average slid 0.8% to 17,312.69. Declines were limited after Canon Inc. reported a record profit and Yahoo Japan Corp., which operates Japan’s most-visited Web site, said earnings climbed.
The Kospi index retreated 0.2% from a record in South Korea, where a report today showed the economy grew 0.9% in the first quarter, matching economist estimates. Taiwan’s Taiex index dropped 0.4% from the highest in more than a week.
Toyota, which overtook General Motors Corp. to become the world’s largest automaker in the first quarter, fell 2% to 7,220 yen. Hon Hai slid 0.5% to NT$220.
The National Association of Realtors yesterday said the pace of existing home sales slid 8.4% in March and the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index dropped to 104 in April. Most shares fell in the U.S., sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lower by 0.52 to 1480.41.
Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s largest automaker, lost 1.1% to 61,300 won. Creative Technology Ltd, a Singapore-based maker of digital music players that compete with Apple Inc.’s iPods, declined 1.1% to S$9.30.
Canon, the world’s largest digital camera maker, added 0.5% to 6,690 yen. First-quarter net income rose 21% from a year earlier to 131.3 billion yen ($1.1 billion), the company said yesterday after the close of trading.
Profit for the year ending 31 March 2008, will probably rise to 505 billion yen, from a January prediction of 495 billion yen, Canon also said.
Yahoo Japan surged 7.5% to 39,500 yen. Full-year net income rose 23% to 58 billion yen from a year earlier, with a 22% rise in sales, the company said yesterday after the close of trading.
Elpida Memory Inc., Japan’s biggest maker of memory devices for personal computers, said fourth-quarter profit rose almost sixfold to 8.5 billion yen on demand for chips used in PCs. The shares gained 2.1% to 4,930 yen.