Asian stocks declined on Thursday, as worries about Europe’s debt troubles worked to depress sentiment across the region.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HK:HSI -1.11 percent fell 1.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite index CN:000001 -0.26 percent slipped 0.1 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average JP:NIK -0.30 percent ended the morning session 0.3 percent lower, although Korea’s Kospi KR:0100 +0.29 percent and the Australian S&P/ASX 200 index AU:XJO +0.17 percent both traded flat.
Asia-listed shares have been hit this week by further worries about Europe’s debt crisis expanding to other members of the euro zone, as bond yields for some nations rose.
US stocks dropped sharply on Wednesday after ratings firm Fitch warned of trouble for US banks should Europe’s debt trouble worsen. Read more on US stocks.
“Ongoing concerns of the euro-zone debt crisis continue to weigh on sentiment ahead of important bond auctions from Spain and France,” said strategists at Brown Brothers Harriman.
Commercial banks were some of the worst performers in Japan, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. JP:8316 -0.67 percent SMFNF -4.32 percent down 2.6 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. JP:8306 -0.91 percent MBFJF -2.89 percent down 1.3 percent.
Banks also fell in Hong Kong, with Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd HK:1398 -1.94 percent IDCBF -3.13 percent down 2.6 percent and Bank of Communications Co. HK:3328 -2.38 percent BKFCF +17.24 percent losing 2.4 percent.
Financial concerns also weighed on Hong Kong-listed property stocks, with China Resources Land Ltd HK:1109 -4.30 percent CRBJF +17.32 percent tumbling 5 percent, and Henderson Land Development Co. HK:12 -1.88 percent HLDVF -2.91 percent down 2.6 percent.
Esprit Holdings Ltd HK:330 -4.48 percent ESHDF 0.00 percent, which fell sharply in the previous session after it was removed from the MSCI Hong Kong Index, lost 5 percent, bringing month-to-date losses to 20 percent.
Over in Seoul, shares of Hynix Semiconductor Inc. rose 2.5 percent after it and US peer Micron Technology Inc. MU -2.82 percent won a price-fixing suit filed against them by Rambus Inc. RMBS +2.67 percent See report on Hynix-Rambus verdict.
Sharply lower auto sales in some European countries, as reported overnight by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, hurt some Japanese car makers. Nissan Motor Co. JP:7201 -0.86 percent NSANY -3.03 percent lost 0.9 percent, and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. JP:7211 -1.05 percent MMTOF -3.20 percent fell 1.1 percent.
Energy majors were mixed across Asia, with Inpex Corp. JP:1605 +2.36 percent IPXHY -0.80 percent up 2.4 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. JP:1662 +3.40 percent JPTXF +2.00 percent up 3.4 percent as benchmark Nymex crude-oil futures traded above the key $100-a-barrel mark in electronic trading.
However, Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd AU:WPL -1.04 percent WOPEF +0.13 percent failed to join in the gains, trading down 1 percent in Sydney.
Industrial-sector shares were also weak in Australia, with Leighton Holdings Ltd AU:LEI -1.59 percent LGTHF +0.48 percent down 1.5 percent. -By Sarah Turner