By Jonathan Burgos
Asian stocks fell, with the benchmark index heading for a fourth day of losses, after consumer confidence in the U.S. unexpectedly declined and Hong Kong braced for bigger protests as Chinese holidays started.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) slid 0.1 percent to 140.20 as of 9:02 a.m. in Japan after retreating to a four-month low yesterday. The measure capped its biggest monthly decline in more than two years in September amid concern Chinese economic growth is slowing and that the Federal Reserve may increase U.S. borrowing costs sooner as it ends asset purchases.
“There are a lot of worries about when the U.S. will start raising rates,” Nader Naeimi, who helps manage about $125 billion as head of dynamic asset allocation at Sydney-based AMP Capital Investors Ltd., said by phone. “There’s growing concern about the Hong Kong situation. If the protests continue, there’s a risk some businesses may pull out.”
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying faces a deadline to respond to demands for his resignation and for free elections in the city as pro-democracy protests entered a sixth day. As dawn approached, tens of thousands of protesters packed key areas, undeterred by heavy rainstorms overnight. Hundreds of demonstrators had moved to a site in the Wan Chai district where Leung is attending a ceremony at 8 a.m. to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Japan’s Topix index slipped 0.2 percent as investors weighed the quarterly Tankan survey of business sentiment. South Korea’s Kospi index sank 0.5 percent after a report showed exports rose less than expected last month. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.3 percent. Hong Kong is closed today and tomorrow for holidays, while mainland China’s are shut through Oct. 7.
China’s official manufacturing gauge for September is due today, with economists surveyed by Bloomberg expecting expansion to slow.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.2 percent. The underlying equity measure lost 0.3 percent yesterday as small-cap and energy shares slumped amid the decline in consumer confidence.
Confidence among U.S. consumers fell to a four-month low in September as Americans’ views of the labor market deteriorated. The Conference Board’s index decreased to 86 last month, weaker than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists, from an August reading of 93.4 that was the strongest since October 2007.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Burgos in Singapore at [email protected]
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah McDonald at [email protected] Tom Redmond, Jim Powell