Asian stocks declined on Monday in morning session after a US market holiday but held near three-year highs on optimism about the US economy, with investors now shifting their focus to corporate earnings.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.2% to 147 as of 10:58 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index retreated 0.2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2%, with trading volume about 35% lower than the average of the last month for the time of day. South Korea’s Kospi index declined 0.5%, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index dropped 0.2%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.2% with volume one third lower than average. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.2%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced less than 0.1% and Taiwan’s Taiex Index slid 0.4%.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde signalled a cut in the institution’s global growth forecasts, saying investment is still weak and that risks remain in the US even as its rebound accelerates.
“The global economy is gathering speed, though the pace may be a bit less than we previously predicted because the growth potential is lower and investment” spending remains lackluster, Lagarde told the Cercle des Economistes conference in Aix-en-Provence, France.
In corporate news, Aeon Co. plunged 4.5% in Tokyo, one of the largest losses on the regional benchmark index, after profit in the first quarter plunged at the supermarket operator.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. slid 4.6% in Seoul after a brokerage cut its estimate on the shares, citing slowing new orders.
TPK Holding Co., the maker of computer screens, fell 4.7% in Taipei.
Wotif.com Holdings Ltd surged 24% in Sydney after Expedia Inc., an online travel-booking service, agreed to buy the Australian travel agency for A$703 million ($658 million), seeking to expand its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.