HONG KONG – Asian markets were lower on Wednesday, with concerns about the Chinese property market pulling down stocks in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Stocks in mainland China remained weak, with the Shanghai Composite down 1% to 2,263.97, its fifth consecutive session of losses.
Sentiment in the market remained weak after the latest set of Chinese economic data showed the recovery of Asia’s largest economy moderating and as the government renewed efforts to control the property market.
Concerns about the property market were stoked on Wednesday by local media reports saying that Shenzhen has imposed price curbs on developers. China Vanke dropped 2.4% in Shenzhen and Poly Real Estate Group lost 3.8% in Shanghai.
“To change the market trend, there needs to be more clarity on the government’s economic policies or further proof of a stronger economy recovery,” said Wei Fengchun, analyst at Bosera Funds.
The selling in mainland China had a knock-on effect in Hong Kong. The Hang Seng Index ended down 1.4% at 22,556.65, with property developers some of the worst performers: China Resources Land fell 4% (CRBJF) and China Overseas Land & Investment (CAOVY) lost 3.1%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5% to 5092.40 as weakness in the financial sector pulled down the broader market. Banks were sold after home-loan approvals fell a seasonally adjusted 1.5% in January from December, compared with a 0.5% rise expected by economists.
In addition, National Australia Bank (NABZY) announced a restructuring that disappointed investors. Australia’s fourth-largest bank by market value said it plans to cut annual costs by A$800 million in five years.
National Australia Bank’s shares dropped 1.9%, along with other Australian banks. Several stocks in the sector had been trading in recent days at record or multiyear highs. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CMWAY) lost 1.7% and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group fell 2%.
In Japan, the yen (USDJPY) remained strong, with the dollar at 95.65 late in Asian trading compared with 96.09 late Tuesday in New York.
The Japanese currency pushed back against the greenback after Japan’s largest opposition party said Tuesday that it would oppose the government’s nomination of Kikuo Iwata for the position of deputy governor at the Bank of Japan. Among the three nominees put forward to run the central bank, Mr. Iwata is considered to be the strongest advocate of easing policies.
A firmer yen contributed to a decline in Japanese stocks, with the Nikkei Stock Average down 0.6% at 12,239.66, as some stocks that had recently gained continued to back. Index heavyweight Fast Retailing, (FRCOY) which surged 24% last week, dropped for a third session, falling 2.2% on Wednesday.
Shares in Japan Tobacco (JAPAF) jumped 7.2% on Wednesday, ahead of the government’s sale to the public of a 747 billion yen stake in the company. The sale is scheduled for Friday.
South Korea’s Kospi Composite ended up 0.3% at 1999.73, before the Bank of Korea’s next policy-rate decision on Thursday.
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ASIA MARKETS: Property Concerns Weigh On China Market – Fox Business}