Most Asian Stocks Decline

Most Asian stocks fell, led by banks and commodity companies, as concerns about the worsening global economy countered speculation governments will introduce more policies to stimulate growth., Bloomberg 3/3/2009 5:42:19 AM

HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank, plunged 19 percent in Hong Kong after announcing share-sale plans. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, sank 2.4 percent in Sydney as oil and metals prices declined. Property developer China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. surged 5.2 percent in Hong Kong on optimism the Chinese government will this week commit more funds to a spending package.

Five stocks dropped for every four that advanced on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, which lost 0.4 percent to 72.20 as of 7:17 p.m. in Tokyo. The gauge slumped 19 percent this year, extending 2008’s record 43 percent tumble, as recessions in the world’s largest economies hurt earnings at companies from BHP to Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 0.7 percent to 7,229.72 in Tokyo, paring a drop of as much as 2.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 2.3 percent. All markets declined, except South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia.

European stocks fell to the lowest level since 1996 on concern profits are deteriorating and banks will need more capital.

Credit Suisse Group AG retreated 1.2 percent after Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. recommended clients sell the stock because of a dire” outlook for wealth management. Barclays Plc decreased 4.2 percent a day after U.K. banks posted their biggest slump in two decades. Bayer AG, Germany’s biggest drugmaker, slid for the ninth day after lowering its 2009 forecast on waning demand for plastics.

The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slipped 0.3 percent at 12:24 p.m. in London after earlier sliding as much as 1.4 percent to 162.02, a level not seen since November 1996. The regional gauge has lost 17 percent in 2009 and posted its biggest drop of the year yesterday after Warren Buffett said the U.S. economy is in a shambles” and HSBC Holdings Plc announced a rights offering.