European equity futures dropped, commodities fell and Australia’s dollar weakened to a two-month low after data showed China’s manufacturing may contract for a fifth month. Asian stocks rose as Japan reported higher-than- estimated exports.
Euro Stoxx 50 Index futures lost 0.2 percent as of 7:02 a.m. in London. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) added 0.5 percent and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures were little changed. Australia’s currency weakened 0.4 percent, while the euro gained against most of its major peers. The S&P GSCI Index of commodities lost 0.3 percent as copper and natural gas declined.“The real economy is still slowing and hasn’t shown signs of picking up as the market expected,” said Wang Zheng, Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management Co., which manages about $120 million. “The concern about growth is back and that’ll weigh on sentiment.”
A preliminary measure of Chinese manufacturing fell to 48.1 in March, the lowest level in four months, based on data from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics. German services and factory output probably expanded this month, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists before the Markit report. Japan’s exports unexpectedly exceeded imports by 32.9 billion yen ($395 million) in February, the government said.
Japan’s unexpected trade surplus for February and higher- than-forecast exports added to evidence of a rebound in the world’s third-biggest economy. The Cabinet Office said yesterday that the economy is picking up “slowly” after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern regions in March last year.
The Hang Seng Index gained 0.3 percent. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced this month an economic growth target of 7.5 percent for 2012, down from an annual 8 percent over the past seven years. The index of China manufacturing for March from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics compares with 49.6 for the previous month. A number below 50 indicates contraction.
Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea’s biggest carrier, fell 3.5 percent in Seoul after Samsung Securities Co. cut its profit forecast. Nexon Co. (3659) rallied 6 percent in Japan after the gaming company raised its first-quarter net income forecast by 45 percent on sales from online titles in Asia.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.5 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi Index (KOSPI) slipped less than 0.1 percent. About five stocks rose for every four that fell in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index.
New Zealand GDP
The New Zealand dollar lost 0.7 percent, weakening against all its major counterparts. The nation’s gross domestic product rose 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous period, the government said. That compares with the 0.6 percent projection from a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Oil fell as much as 0.9 percent after France said that industrialized nations are considering releasing strategic crude stockpiles to counter rising prices. Crude prices have advanced this year on concern sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program will disrupt oil exports.
Copper in London fell 0.8 percent to $8,386.25 a metric ton. Nickel lost 0.5 percent and aluminum slid for a third day.