Asian Stocks Decline as Commodity Rout Endures Amid Low Volumes

Asian stocks fell amid low trading volumes as commodity producers tracked a slide in industrial metals and crude oil.

As the chances rise of a Federal Reserve interest-rate increase, the dollar is climbing, making commodities more expensive for buyers in other currencies. The London Metal Exchange index of six industrial metals has plummeted 27 percent this year, the worst annual performance since the global financial crisis in 2008.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index lost 0.3 percent to 418.71 as of 4:13 p.m. in Hong Kong, after climbing 2.4 percent last week. BHP Billiton Ltd. was the biggest drag on the regional gauge, while Guotai Junan International Holdings Ltd. plunged as much as 17 percent in Hong Kong after the brokerage said it can’t contact its Chairman.

The Hong Kong unit of one of China’s biggest securities firms, Guotai Junan Securities Co., appointed temporary replacements after failing to reach its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Yim Fung since Nov. 18, the company told the stock exchange on Monday. The executive “currently cannot discharge his duties,” the company said. Two calls to Yim’s mobile phone went to his voicemail box.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.6 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.4 percent. The China Securities Regulatory Commission has restarted IPOs for five companies to list on the Shanghai stock exchange and five in Shenzhen, according to a statement on its official microblog on Friday. The resumption shows authorities are becoming more confident the stock market can stand on its own after the index rallied back into a bull market this month.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.2 percent. Japan was closed for a holiday. The Kospi index added 0.7 percent, with volume about 21 percent below its 30-day average. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.4 percent and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 1.2 percent to a record high. Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.2 percent.

Source : Bloomberg