» Asian Stocks Fall, Led by Mining Companies as Metal Prices Drop
Asian Stocks Fall, Led by Mining Companies as Metal Prices Drop
By Shani Raja and Masaki Kondo
March 9 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks fell, led by materials companies on concern Chinese demand for metals may stagnate, outweighing gains by China Life Insurance Co. after the insurer said profit probably climbed more than 200 percent.
Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-largest mining company, lost 1 percent in Sydney after metal prices dropped yesterday. BHP Billiton Ltd., the biggest, retreated 0.3 percent, and Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s largest commodities trader, declined 0.4 percent. Fujitsu Ltd. fell for a second day in Tokyo, slumping 4.2 percent. China Life rose 4 percent in Hong Kong.
"There are seeds of risk everywhere around us,” said Kiyoshi Ishigane, a strategist in Tokyo at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co., which oversees about $67 billion. "At the same time, we’re seeing some positive news among the risk seeds.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 122.60 as of 1:43 p.m. in Tokyo, with about five stocks declining for every three that advanced. Materials companies dropped the most among the gauge’s 10 industry groups.
The index has risen 74 percent since March 9 last year, when it sank to its lowest level since the September 2008 bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 as consumer shares gained after a report showed the country’s business confidence advanced for a second month.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.2 percent. Yesterday in New York, most stocks on the gauge rose after American International Group Inc. announced the $15.5 billion sale of a unit and Sprint Nextel Corp. said it expects revenue growth in the next several quarters, overshadowing a drop among health-care stocks after President Barack Obama began a final push to overhaul the medical industry.
"Today, any gain in shares will be minimal,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, a senior strategist at Tokyo-based SMBC Friend Securities Co. "I’m advising my clients to take profit when prices go up.”
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