PT EQUITYWORLD FUTURES SSC JAKARTA – Asian stocks slid as China trade figures showed signs of weakness in the region’s biggest economy. Japanese equities rallied on a weaker yen after U.S. payrolls topped estimates.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, lost 1 percent in Sydney as materials and energy shares retreated. Olympus Corp. fell 3 percent in Tokyo after profit missed estimates and the firm said a U.S. probe into its medical business could hurt earnings. Honda Motor Co., which gets 84 percent of sales overseas, rose 1 percent as a 1.3 percent slump in the yen boosted Japan’s exporters after the U.S. jobs report.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.2 percent to 141.04 as of 4:05 p.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index climbed 0.6 percent after the yen’s decline. China’s imports plunged by the most in more than five years and exports unexpectedly fell, a report over the weekend showed.
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“Chinese policy makers are acutely aware of potential issues within their economy and the bias is for more stimulus,” Tim Schroeders, a portfolio manager who helps oversee about $1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “The U.S. jobs data reaffirms the likelihood of a Fed change in policy around mid year. It caught the market on the wrong foot to a degree. It’s realigned people’s thoughts.”
The yen gave up some of its drop today, gaining 0.2 percent to 118.86 per dollar. The greenback surged Friday as odds of a Federal Reserve interest-rate increase as early as June rose on the jobs report, which showed payroll gains in January capped the biggest three-month increase in 17 years.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index, which capped a record 12th day of gains on Friday, declined 0.1 percent. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott thwarted a leadership challenge, though failed to end speculation his position is under threat after almost 40 percent of his Liberal Party colleagues voted against him.
South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.4 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slipped 0.5 percent. The South Pacific nation and neighboring Australia both count China as their biggest trading partners. Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.3 percent and India’s BSE S&P Sensex Index declined 1 percent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.6 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6 percent. Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. surged the most on record in Hong Kong after Sunac China Holdings Ltd. offered to buy out the troubled Chinese developer.
Shipments from Asia’s biggest economy slid 3.3 percent in January, after rising 9.7 percent in December, data from the customs administration in Beijing showed Sunday. Economists had projected a 5.9 percent increase. China cut the required reserve ratio for banks last week as it seeks to stoke growth and head off a domestic downturn.
Payrolls in the U.S. swelled by 257,000 workers last month, following a 329,000 gain in December that was bigger than previously reported. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 228,000 increase in January.
The probability of a Fed liftoff by June, based on trading in futures and options, rose to 26.9 percent on Friday, from 17.6 percent the day before, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The odds of an increase by September were 59.1 percent, up from 44.5 percent.
“This U.S. jobs report has altered market expectations for rate rises from the Fed with many now expecting the Fed to raise rates in the early summer,” said Stewart Richardson, chief investment officer at RMG Wealth Management LLP in London. “We will see just how brave the Fed will be.”
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.3 percent. The underlying gauge slipped 0.3 percent after climbing toward all-time highs during Friday trading.
Ukraine’s almost yearlong conflict enters a pivotal week, with the outcome of more talks on a peace agreement potentially determining whether a wider war can be avoided as violence escalates. Almost 5,400 people have died in the fighting since April, according to the United Nations.
“Ukraine continues to simmer and is a reminder to everyone that this hasn’t gone away,” said Pengana’s Schroeders. “These smouldering issues can potentially flare up relatively quickly so markets will continue to be volatile. It’s a challenging environment.”