Asian shares continued their decline on Monday in morning trade after a gauge of Chinese manufacturing fell and as investors awaited a Federal Reserve meeting starting tomorrow for a clue on the timing of stimulus cuts.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.5% to 137 as of 9:48 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index lost 0.7%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.1%. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index and South Korea’s Kospi index were little changed.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.8%, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index declined 0.7%. China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 0.3%, and Taiwan’s Taiex lost 0.5%.
Shares declined as improving US economic data fuelled speculation that stimulus will be reduced sooner than later. The Fed will start reducing $85 billion of monthly bond purchases this week, according to 34% of economists surveyed on 6 December by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the HSBC Holdings Plc/Markit Economics preliminary manufacturing purchasing managers’ index for China declined to 50.5 in December. In Japan, the quarterly Tankan index for large manufacturers increased to the highest since 2007, climbing to 16 from 12 in September, according to the Bank of Japan, beating estimates.
In corporate news, Toyota Motor Corp., Asia’s largest carmaker, fell 1.3%, leading losses among consumer-discretionary firms as the yen held gains against the dollar.
Senex Energy Ltd. plunged 7.1% after its A$752 million ($674 million) initial takeover proposal for AWE Ltd. was rejected by the oil and gas explorer. AWE shares surged 5.2%.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. gained 1.2% on a report the government plans to double interest-free loans to the utility.