Asian shares fell on Monday in late morning trade as concern that the global economic recovery is faltering spurred investors to sell riskier assets.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 2.1% to 135 by 11:05 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index sank 2.8% as the yen touched a seven-week high versus the greenback. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index slipped 2.2%. China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.6%.
Taiwan’s Taiex Index and Singapore’s Straits Times Index both declined 1.6%. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index decreased 0.7%. Australian markets are closed for a holiday.
Shares declined after a private gauge of China’s manufacturing dropped to a six-month low in January, adding to signs growth in the world’s second-largest economy is slowing.
Japan reported a record annual trade deficit for last year as energy shipments and weakness in the yen pumped up the nation’s import bill. The shortfall was ¥11.5 trillion ($113 billion), almost double the previous year’s ¥6.9 trillion, a finance ministry report showed in Tokyo today.
Imports rose 25% in December from a year earlier and exports gained 15%, leaving a monthly deficit of ¥1.3 trillion.
In corporate news, Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, fell 1.3% in Seoul, while Honda Motor Co. slipped 1.9% in Tokyo, pacing losses among Japanese exporters amid a stronger yen.
GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd., the world’s largest maker of polysilicon, sank 7.8% in Hong Kong after China set a lower-than-expected target for installed solar-energy capacity this year.