Asian shares dropped after China raised gasoline and diesel prices by the most in two years. The Australian dollar weakened for the first time in four days and commodities retreated.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index (MXAPJ) lost 0.5 percent as of 1:18 p.m. in Tokyo. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.8 percent, while Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures were little changed. Australia’s dollar fell 0.3 percent. The S&P GSCI commodity gauge declined 0.4 percent, led by wheat and corn. Oil dropped 0.4 percent to $107.63 a barrel.Signs the U.S. economy is improving don’t dispel risks that include rising gasoline prices and a weakened housing market, Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William C. Dudley said yesterday. China’s refiners will charge 7 percent more for gasoline, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Reports later today may show U.S. housing starts gained in February and U.K. inflation slowed for a fifth month, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
“The market is going through a period of consolidation following recent gains,” said Pauline Dan, who helps oversee $480 million as chief investment officer at Samsung Asset Management in Hong Kong. “We’re not seeing spectacular recovery in the U.S., Europe or China. Earnings growth won’t be very exciting.”
Chinese Shares Slide
The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong slid 1 percent, poised for the lowest close in two months. Profits for China’s state-owned companies fell 11 percent in the first two months this year, according to a statement posted on the finance ministry’s website. Revenue increased 9.9 percent.
All 10 industries in the MSCI gauge of Asian shares outside Japan declined. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index and South Korea’s Kospi Index slid 0.4 percent. The BSE India Sensitive Index, or Sensex, added 0.6 percent.
Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. (16), Hong Kong’s biggest developer by value, lost 2.2 percent after saying an executive director was arrested as part of an investigation into alleged bribery. Transurban Group (TCL), Australia’s biggest operator of toll roads, dropped 2.6 percent in Sydney trading after the company’s biggest shareholder sold a 7.9 percent stake at a discount.
Chinese consumer stocks retreated in Hong Kong trading. Great Wall Motor Co., a maker of sport-utility vehicles, slumped 5.2 percent. Belle International Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest shoe retailer, lost 1.8 percent.
“Higher energy costs and falling profits may worry investors that the economy is slowing even further,” said Dai Ming, a fund manager at Shanghai Kingsun Investment Management & Consulting Co. in Shanghai.
SK Innovation Co., South Korea’s largest oil refiner, advanced 2.7 percent. Gasoline advanced to a 10-month high in New York yesterday on speculation that refinery closures will lower supply as peak driving season approaches.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, said China’s steel production is slowing as the world’s fastest- growing major economy starts to shift to focus more on consumers than large infrastructure projects.
Oil dropped for the first time in three days. U.S. inventories climbed to the highest level in six months last week as processors idled units and imports from Canada increased, according to a Bloomberg News survey before a government report tomorrow.
Australia’s dollar weakened against all 16 major peers. Malaysia’s ringgit led declines in Asian currencies, losing 0.2 percent to 3.0605 per dollar.
Treasury 10-year futures contracts were about 0.2 percent from the lowest level since October before a government report economists said will show U.S. homebuilding climbed to a three- month high. Ten-year notes dropped for a ninth day yesterday, the longest stretch since June 2006. Markets are closed in Japan for a holiday.
Corn dropped a second day after planting advanced in Texas and wheat slumped as rains improved crop prospects in the U.S., the world’s largest shipper of both grains. May delivery corn lost 1 percent on the Chicago Board of Trade.