Asian stocks slide to two-week low on metals, U.S. home sales

July 3, 2007 - 0:0

SYDNEY (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks fell to the lowest in two weeks after commodity prices dropped and on concern a U.

S. housing slump will curb growth in the region's biggest export market. Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's largest automaker, declined the most in almost three weeks. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest mining company, slid for a third day, its longest losing streak since January. “It's not a great time for exporters, and we have lower commodities driving the miners down too,” said Hans Kunnen, who helps manage $107 billion at Colonial First State Global Asset Management in Sydney. “Markets seem unable to push higher as we get more news every day about the U.S. economy, particularly the housing troubles there.” Shanghai Automotive Co. paced China's CSI 300 Index to a second day of gains after a government report showed profits by industrial companies jumped. All 10 industry groups that make up the Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index retreated. The measure, which rose to a record last week, lost 1.2 percent to 151.03 as of 7:33 p.m. in Tokyo, the lowest since June 14 and its biggest slide since June 8. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped for a fourth day, falling 1.2 percent to 17,849.28, its longest string of declines in three months. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 2 percent, the most since March 14. Benchmarks fell elsewhere in the region, except in Thailand and Pakistan. In the U.S., the Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 0.3 percent Wednesday, heading for its biggest monthly retreat in more than a year. Purchases of new homes dropped in May, a report by the Commerce Department showed, while an index of consumer confidence fell this month to the lowest since August. ----------- Reassessing the risks Toyota, which made almost two-thirds of its sales outside Japan last year, slipped 1.7 percent to 7,550 yen, the most since June 8. James Hardie Industries NV, the No. 1 maker of home siding in the U.S., dropped 3.2 percent to A$8.59, the lowest since April 17. HSBC Holdings Plc, who North American business generated 21 percent of its total pre-tax profit in 2006, lost 0.8 percent to HK$143. Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest memory-chip maker, declined 1.2 percent to 581,000 won. “The U.S. housing market is looking bad,” said Koshi Kumagai, a fund manager at BNP Paribas Asset Management in Tokyo, which manages about $438 billion in assets worldwide. “Global investors are now reassessing how much risk they're willing to take and that's causing shares to fall.” Meanwhile, Japan's currency climbed for a third day against the dollar, trading at 122.69 at the close of share trading in Tokyo. The currency fell to a more than four-year low of 124.14 on June 22. The yen also gained against the euro for a third day to 164.84, from a record low of 166.94 last week. Sony Corp., the maker of the Vaio computer and PlayStation console, lost 2.2 percent to 6,260 yen. Canon Inc., the world's largest digital-camera maker, slid 2.3 percent to 7,210 yen. ----------- Metals, oil BHP Billiton retreated 1.8 percent to A$34.20. Its three-day loss is the longest since the period ended Jan. 8. Rio Tinto Group, the third biggest, fell 2.6 percent to A$95.75, extending a five- day, 2.8 percent drop. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Japan's biggest nickel producer, dropped 3.9 percent to 2,625 yen. Signs of slowing consumption in China and the U.S., the world's largest users of copper, helped push prices of the metal 1.5 percent lower Tuesday. Zinc and nickel prices also fell, sending a measure of six metals traded on the London Metal Exchange down 2.1 percent, its biggest drop since June 12. Crude oil for August delivery fell 2 percent to $67.77 a barrel in New York Tuesday, the biggest one-day decline since June 8. Futures were recently trading at $67.69. Inpex Holdings Inc., Japan's largest oil explorer, slid 1.7 percent to 1.13 million yen. Santos Ltd., Australia's third- biggest producer, fell 3.4 percent to A$13.80. Cnooc Ltd., China's biggest offshore oil explorer, lost 1.6 percent to HK$8.46. --------- China gains Stocks in China gained after a government report showed profits generated by industrial companies climbed. Combined net income for five months through May 31 increased 42.1 percent from a year earlier to 902.6 billion yuan ($119 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. Total sales jumped 27.4 percent to 14.2 trillion yuan. “The figures boosted optimism about first-half earnings for listed companies,” said Yan Ji, an investment manager at HSBC Jintrust Fund Management Co. in Shanghai, which manages about $517 million. “Growth is still pretty fast.” Shanghai Automotive, China's largest automaker, climbed 4 percent to 18.95 yuan. Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Co., the world's biggest maker of container cranes, rose 7.3 percent to 20.77 yuan