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Market Update

Asian Stocks Retreat; Syndey Bucks Trend

Mainland Chinese stocks led most Asian markets lower Tuesday after preliminary data showing less-than-expected growth in China's manufacturing activity raised concerns about recovery in the world's second largest economy.

The Shanghai Composite dropped 2.1%, the Hang Seng lost 1.1% while the Nikkei retreated 0.3% at 12:43 a.m. Tokyo time. The Sensex, too, gave up early gains and slipped 0.1% lower.

Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries, however, bucked the trend despite a poor flash China PMI reading. China is Australia's biggest destination of mining exports and any slump in industrial activity there affects the demand for Australian miners.

The preliminary reading of HSBC's manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to a two-month low of 50.5 in April, from the final reading of 51.6 in the previous month and below analysts expectations; spurring fears economy recovery in China could be faltering.

Commodities, except gold, dipped into the red following the disappointing news.  Silver and copper futures were trading around 1% lower while crude oil drifted 0.6% down to $88.69 per barrel.

Stocks on the move

Resources stocks were mostly on the losers' side. In Hong Kong, Angang Steel dropped 2.3%, Jiangxi Copper lost 1.6% while Aluminum Corp. of China erased over 2%.

Among oil stocks, PetroChina shed 2.3% while China Petroleum slipped 2.5%. CNOOC was trading around 0.5% lower.

Property stocks were among other major losers of the day as fears mounted a slowdown in the economy would affect real-estate prices.

Shanghai-listed Gemdale Corp plunged 5.3% while Poly Real Estate tumbled nearly 4.5%. The broader Shenzhen-listed China Vanke was down around 5% too.

Sydney-listed miners were also trading with sharp cuts. Index leader BHP Billiton dropped lost 1.2% while close miner Rio Tinto fell around 2%. Gold miner Newcrest Mining tumbled 2.6%.

But oil firms gained ground, posting sharp gains. Woodside Petroleum soared 8.7% after the company said it would return cash to its shareholders through a special dividend, and also increase its dividend payout ratio.

Santos rose 2.3% while AGL Energy added around a percent.

In Tokyo, exporters pushed lower after staging a rally in the previous session as investors booked profits and as the yen grew stronger against the dollar.

Car manufacturers Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor skidded around a percent while Sharp Corp. gave up 2%.

Among Hong Kong-listed exporters, Foxconn International Holdings fell over 2% while Esprit Holdings retreated around 1.5%.

In Mumbai, stocks lost momentum after initial gains, tracking weakness in overseas markets.

Among the losers were banking stocks and FMCG companies.

L&T eased 2%, Tata Motors lost 1.8%, SBI retreated 1.4% while HDFC Bank shed around a percent. ICICI Bank eased 0.5% while ITC was down 0.7%.