Asia Stocks Fall Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Data

Stocks in Hong Kong led Asia lower Tuesday, while a strong performance in BHP Billiton Ltd. helped the Australian stock market rise.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index  fell 0.6%, as the index was weighed down by its second-largest constituent, China Mobile Ltd.   .

The world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers dropped 3.7% after reporting that nine-month net profit fell 1.9% — the result of tough competition as well as increased network investments and handset subsidies.

The Shanghai Composite  fell 0.4%, easing after a strong Monday session, where the index jumped 1.6% after comments from the State Council over the weekend raised expectations for economic reform.

There was also some weakness in Hong Kong-listed Chinese developers, after data showed that new home prices rose on year in September in 69 of 70 cities. Signs of rising house prices are often taken negatively, as it increases expectations that Beijing could step in to cool the property market.

China Resources Land Ltd.   dropped 0.8%, while China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd.   fell 1.2%.

More broadly, investors were looking ahead to the U.S. labor report for September later Tuesday. Nonfarm payrolls has been a closely watched economic indicator in global markets, examined by investors to see whether the U.S. economy is healthy enough for the Federal Reserve to roll back its stimulus program.

Expectations were high in September for the central bank to change direction, and markets were taken by surprise when it kept its bond-buying program unchanged. The recent government shutdown in the U.S. has led many to conclude that stimulus will stay steady until next year.

The dollar was slightly higher against the Japanese yen   at ¥98.25, compared with ¥98.17 late Monday in New York.

Regional stocks were also coming down from gains in the past few sessions brought about by the resolution of the government shutdown in the U.S., as well as a pickup in Chinese growth in the most recent quarter.

South Korea’s Kospi Composite Index  dropped 0.3% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average  was 0.1% lower.  The Philippines’ PSE Composite added 0.4%.

The S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4%, helped by mining giant BHP Billiton    which rose 2% after it raised its iron-ore production guidance for the 2014 fiscal year. The firm now expects to produce 212 million metric tons of iron ore, or 2.4% above the previous guidance.

Also in Sydney, retailer David Jones Ltd.  ] dropped 1.8% after Chief Executive Paul Zahra said Monday that he will resign for personal reasons after the company finds a successor.

Shares in chemicals firm Asahi Kasei Corp.  rose 1.8% in Tokyo after a Nikkei newspaper report said that the company’s consolidated first-half operating profit likely surged 83% on year to more than ¥70 billion. The results would set a new record for an interim period.

Source : Marketwatch

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