Asian stocks fall for second day amid oil retreat, China outlook

An investor looks at screens showing stock market movements at a securities company in Beijing.

Asian stocks dropped for a second day as oil retreated after worsening economic data from China renewed concern over the outlook for global growth. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.6 percent to 124.82 as of 9:03 a.m. in Tokyo, headed for its biggest loss in two weeks. After a three-week rally that restored almost $5 trillion to the value of global equities, a sense of uncertainty seems to be returning to markets in the wake of data reinforcing Japan’s economic woes and a sustained drop-off in trade for China. That concern may raise the stakes as investors await a monetary policy review from the European Central Bank on Thursday, with meetings of the Bank of Japan and Federal Reserve due the following week. “There’s still a lot of underlying concerns and risks that haven’t gone away,” Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners in Wellington, which manages about $7.2 billion, said by phone. “We’re quite concerned about the weakening economic trends in China. We don’t see the big rebound that we’ve seen as sustainable. We got a little bit oversold a few weeks back and now we’re a little bit overbought.” Japan’s Topix index fell 1.3 percent as the yen maintained two days of gains, damping the outlook for export earnings. South Korea’s Kospi index declined 0.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.3 percent and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index was little changed. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading. China Trade Futures on the Hang Seng Index and Hang Seng China Enterprises Index fell 0.2 percent in most recent trading, while those on the FTSE China A50 Index were little changed. Data Tuesday showing the steepest drop in Chinese exports since 2009 sent the biggest U.S. exchange-traded fund tracking Chinese equities down 1.5 percent in a second day of declines. The Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.1 percent higher on Tuesday, reversing losses of as much as 3.3 percent. China’s tumbling stock market is set to join the trade slump and sluggish factory conditions as a brake on economic growth this quarter. An 18 percent slump in the Shanghai Composite so far this year will reduce first-quarter gross domestic product growth by between 0.1 percentage point and 0.3 percentage point, according to the majority of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News this month. E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. The underlying U.S. equity benchmark index fell 1.1 percent Tuesday from its highest level since Jan. 5, led lower by raw-materials producers and energy stocks. U.S. crude dropped 3.7 percent, retreating from a two-month high.

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