Asian stocks headed for its worst streak of weekly losses since September as investors assess what a U.S. interest-rate increase as soon as next month will mean for global growth. Raw-material makers rebounded to lead gains on the regional benchmark index.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.1 percent to 125.17 as of 9:04 a.m. in Tokyo, extending this week’s slide to 0.4 percent. The gauge is on course for a fourth week of losses, the worst run since seven weeks of declines that ended in September. This week’s surge in expectations for higher U.S. rates has dealt another blow to sentiment that was already brittle amid weaker-than-estimated earnings in Japan and disappointing economic data in China.
Some Fed policy makers expressed concern that markets were ill-prepared for a rate increase next month, minutes of the central bank’s April meeting showed this week. The document also indicated policy makers’ willingness to raise interest rates in June if the economy continues to improve.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index slid 0.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.1 percent.
China’s stocks headed for the longest run of weekly declines since 2012 as a slowing economy, high levels of debt and policy uncertainty weighed on the nation’s financial markets.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell for the fifth week in a row, extending declines to 9 percent since April 15. China Southern Airlines Co. led the slide for air carriers amid concern a weaker yuan will increase the cost of servicing dollar-denominated debt. Suspected state intervention limited the plunge in Shanghai, widening the mismatch between onshore and offshore prices.
China’s reforms drive aims to improve supply quality and overhaul areas including pricing, taxation, finance and social security, the Xinhua News Agency cited President Xi Jinping as saying at a government meeting. His comments came amid record crude steel output in April, with the industry boosted by easier credit and efforts to shore up economic growth. The nation should abandon the idea of easing money conditions to accelerate economic growth, the state-run People’s Daily daily quoted an “authoritative” person as saying last week.
The Shanghai Composite fell 0.8 percent for the week to trade at 2,805.23 as of 10:09 a.m. The CSI 300 Index retreated 0.1 percent on Friday, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index reversed an early decline to surge 1.1 percent and the Hang Seng Index gained 0.8 percent.