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Asian stocks set for worst week since September

Dec 11 2015 10:59
Adam Haigh

Sydney - Asian stocks headed for the biggest weekly drop since September as investors awaited data on Chinese retail sales and industrial production.

Chinese shares slid after a report billionaire Guo Guangchang was missing added to concerns that slowing economic growth, a weakening yuan and an anti- corruption campaign is clouding the outlook for corporate profits.

In a choppy final trading day of the week, Japanese shares rallied, while equities in China retreated. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.3% to 129.38 as of 08:07, on course for a 2% decline this week, a third weekly drop.

The gauge is down 6.2% this year as a rout in commodities and slowing Chinese growth weighs on the earnings prospects of companies from Sydney to Tokyo, before a Federal Reserve decision next week on whether to raise US interest rates.

“Asian markets had a mixed day to end the week,” said Angus Nicholson, Melbourne-based market analyst at IG.

“Japanese markets have clearly reached levels where investors are happy with valuations again. Chinese markets were spooked by the ‘disappearance’ of Fosun’s chairperson, quite likely by China’s anti-corruption department.”

The billionaire chairperson of Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group has become unreachable, Caixin magazine reported on its website, citing people it didn’t identify. Fosun’s stock tumbled more than 11% to $1.55 in over-the-counter trading in New York on Thursday, the biggest decline since August.

Closely held Fosun Group, which controls Fosun International, has “lost contact” with Guo, 48, the magazine said. Bonds in Fosun International fell by a record and the company suspended its shares in Hong Kong after the report, while other mainland stocks with ties to Fosun also requested halts.

“Since lots of senior managers have gone missing like this case, it has negative implications on the market even though nobody knows what has happened," said Ronald Wan, chief executive at Partners Capital International in Hong Kong. "Investors tend to be more cautious now."

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 1.1%, extending a weekly loss to 3.5%, the most in 14 weeks. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.6%.

Chinese retail sales probably rose 11.1% in November from the previous year, after an 11% gain the month before, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Industrial production is expected to advance 5.7%, up from 5.6% in October.

Japan’s Topix index added 0.6% and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rallied 1%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.2% and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 0.5%, while South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.2%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index declined 0.3% and India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index lost 0.8%.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.2%. The underlying equity gauge rose 0.2% on Thursday, halting a three-day slide, as energy shares climbed for a second session and airlines advanced.

Traders now see a 76% chance the Fed will increase interest rates, with US policymakers expected to confirm the world’s biggest economy is strong enough to cope with the first rise in borrowing costs since 2006.

equities  |  markets  |  asian markets
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