Tokyo: Asian stocks fell on Thursday as a continued slump in US auto sales and an increase in Indian gas prices sparked concern that car demand will falter.

Honda Motor Co., Japan’s No. 2 auto maker, fell 2.3% as US sales in June failed to climb above a 10 million annualized rate. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, maker of half the nation’s cars, lost 2%. Newcrest Mining Ltd, Australia’s largest gold producer, led metals producers higher as prices climbed. CNOOC Ltd, China’s No. 1 offshore oil producer, lost 1.8% as a drop in US demand pushed fuel prices lower.

Investors are feeling the global economy is getting better, but the hazy outlook means they can’t totally buy into this recovery story, said Mitsushige Akino, who oversees the equivalent of $522 million (Rs2,495.16 crore) at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. Ltd.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.4% to 102.78 at 7.07pm in Tokyo, with almost five shares retreating for every four that advanced. The measure rallied 15% in the first six months of this year, outpacing gains by benchmark indexes in the US and Europe. Companies on the MSCI Asia gauge are valued at 23.4 times estimated earnings, up from as low as 14 in January this year.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.6%, led by banks after Shinsei Bank Ltd and Aozora Bank Ltd detailed their planned merger. K’s Holdings Corp. led electronics retailers higher in Tokyo on speculation government aid is boosting earnings.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.1%, reversing an early 2.2% surge as trading resumed from a holiday yesterday. China’s shares rose the most in a month, led by energy companies on reports power demand is rising.