Asian stocks traded lower Wednesday, as investors reassessed the chances of central-bank stimulus to support the global economy.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HK:HSI -1.21 percent declined 1%, while the Shanghai Composite Index CN:000001 -0.75 percent lost 0.6%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index AU:XJO -0.47 percent lost 0.5 percent while Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average JP:100000018 -0.17 percent slipped 0.2%. The South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.
US shares had ended mostly lower Tuesday, after a report that Greece is trying to extend its austerity programme. Read more on US stocks.
Better-than-expected data also proved to be a negative for the US market, as “sentiment turned slightly weaker overnight on the better-than-expected US retail sales, which reduced expectations for quantitative easing 3,” said Credit Agricole strategists.
Hopes for central bank stimulus measures have underpinned stock market gains in recent weeks.
“August’s surge in confidence seems to be more a triumph of policy projection and potential than positive economic data,” said Gary Baker, head of European Equities strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
“The risk is now that inaction by policy makers would lead to a negative reaction in global markets,” Baker said.
Financials offered a focus for Wednesday’s Asia trade, with big Japanese banks extending weakness from the previous session.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. JP:8306 -0.83 percent MTU -2.54 percent lost 0.8%, Mizuho Financial Group Inc. JP:8411 -1.55 percent MFG -2.08 percent fell 1.6%, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. JP:8316 -2.07 percent SMFG -3.40 percent came off by 2.1%.
In Hong Kong, HSBC Holdings PLC HK:5 -2.01 percent HBC +0.18 percent UK:HSBA +0.58 percent fell 0.9%, while Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd HK:1398 -1.32 percent IDCBY +0.95 percent lost 1.1%.
But a few major banks managed to buck the trend, with Standard Chartered PLC HK:2888 +5.31 percent UK:STAN +2.74 percent SCBFF +7.62 percent jumping 5.1 percent in Hong Kong after the lender agreed to pay $340 million in settlement over recent accusations from the New York state regulator. Read more on Standard Chartered settlement.
Likewise, Commonwealth Bank of Australia AU:CBA +0.48 percent CBAUF -1.44 percent gained 0.5 percent in Sydney after reporting a record fiscal-year profit of 7.1 billion Australian dollars ($7.45 billion). Read more on Commonwealth Bank of Australia earnings.
Commodity-related firms fell across Asia, with Cnooc Ltd HK:883 -1.80 percent CEO -1.38 percent down 1.7 percent in Hong Kong and Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. JP:5002 -1.86 percent down 1.9 percent in Tokyo. BHP Billiton Ltd AU:BHP -1.37 percent BHP -0.46 percent fell 1.2 percent in Sydney.
The euro’s euro JPY +0.07 percent return above the 97-yen level helped some European-exposed exporters in Japan, as Komatsu Ltd JP:6301 +2.23 percent KMTUF -2.58 percent climbed 2.2%, and Canon Inc. JP:7751 +0.82 percent CAJ 0.00 percent rose 0.8%.
Toyota Motor Corp. JP:7203 +0.32 percent TM -0.80 percent moved ahead by 0.3%. The Nikkei reported that Japan is planning to offer subsidies for ultracompact cars, which Toyota sells but which are currently banned from public roads. -By Sarah Turner