Asian stocks fell for the first time in three days and commodities and the yuan declined after Chinese exports grew at a slower pace than forecast. Indian shares gained as the central bank unexpectedly cut the reserve ratio requirement for banks.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) dropped 0.7 percent as of 3:01 p.m. in Tokyo. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures slipped 0.4 percent, while the BSE India Sensitive Index (SENSEX) added 0.3 percent. The yen weakened against all 16 major peers. The yuan retreated after China’s central bank weakened its daily fixing for the currency by the most since August 2010. Yields on Australia’s 10-year government bonds fell nine basis points to 3.92 percent. The S&P GSCI gauge of 24 commodities slid 0.5 percent, led by natural gas and silver.
China reported the biggest trade deficit in at least 22 years on March 10, adding to data last week on factory output and retail sales that signaled slowing economic growth. The global economy may maintain low growth as oil prices remain “disturbingly high,” South Korea’s Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan said today. India’s central bank reduced on March 9 the amount of deposits lenders need to set aside as reserves to ease a cash squeeze in the banking system.
China’s export data was a “very poor number, and together with lower-than-expected retail growth, means China’s government needs to do something to beef up the economy,” said Alex Au, Hong Kong-based managing director of Richland Capital Management Ltd., which oversees $300 million.
India’s central bank reduced the cash reserve ratio to 4.75 percent from 5.5 percent on March 9, the lowest since 2004 and the first such action outside a policy meeting since July 2010.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi Index (KOSPI) lost 0.8 percent. The MSCI Asia-Pacific gauge slid 1 percent last week, ending a record run of 11 weekly advances. The valuation for the equity benchmark reached 15 times estimated earnings in February, the highest level in almost two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) declined 1 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.7 percent. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will close an annual gathering of the legislature this week. The nation cut its 2012 economic growth target to 7.5 percent on March 5, down from 8 percent over the past seven years.
Exports from China rose 18.4 percent last month from a year earlier, while imports gained 39.6 percent. Analysts forecast a 31.1 percent increase in overseas sales and that inbound shipments would rise 31.8 percent, based on estimates from Bloomberg News surveys.
China Railway Group Ltd. (390), the country’s biggest builder of train lines, tumbled 5.7 percent in Hong Kong. A 300-meter section of an unopened high-speed railway collapsed in central China’s Hubei province following heavy rains, Xinhua News said, citing local authorities.
The yuan lost 0.23 percent to 6.3252 per dollar for the biggest drop since January. The daily reference rate was set 0.33 percent lower at 6.3282 per dollar. The currency can move 0.5 percent either side of the fixing.
Brent oil for April settlement slid 0.5 percent to $125.36 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Hedge funds reduced bullish bets on oil for the first time in five weeks as concern about a conflict with Iran decreased. Large speculators cut wagers on rising prices by 7.3 percent in the week ended March 6, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
“The data from China is a downside pressure on the oil market, said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity-derivative sales manager at Newedge Group in Tokyo. ‘‘The trade deficit is much bigger than expected.’’
Cotton futures dropped as much as 0.9 percent to 88.01 cents a pound in New York. India, the world’s second-biggest cotton producer, scrapped a one-week-old ban on exports of the fiber after protests from growers, traders and China, the nation’s largest customer.
The cost of insuring bonds against non-payment in Asia rose, according to credit-default swap traders. The Markit iTraxx Asia index of 40 investment-grade borrowers outside Japan increased 2 basis points to 159 basis points, Barclays Plc prices show. The measure is headed for its highest close since March 7, according to data provider CMA. Ten-year Treasury yields were little changed at 2.02 percent.