HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian markets fell Wednesday as belied hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve would signal another round of asset purchases and concern about the fallout from European debt troubles kept buyers away.
Many regional markets flirted with positive territory during the session after a string of recent declines, but they couldn’t hold on to the gains.
“The markets have already factored in a lot of negative news. ... In the absence of a liquidity push, the market is unlikely to have a strong rebound,” said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at KGI Asia.
He said stock trading volumes were low and investors were staying on the sidelines amid “continued repatriation of funds back to European countries.”
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Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.18% finished the day 0.4% lower at 8,519.13 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.32% dropped 0.1% to 4,190.50.
Taiwan’s Taiex rose 0.4% to 6,922.57 and South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.26% shed 0.3% to 1,857.75.
China’s Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 +3.21% ended 0.9% lower at 2,228.53, racking up a fifth day of losses, while the Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.47% dropped 0.5% to 18,354.43.
Financials were mixed in Hong Kong, with shares of AIA Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205179901/composite AAGIY +0.63% /zigman2/quotes/203565558/delayed HK:1299 +1.20% rising 0.6% and Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 +0.40% /zigman2/quotes/201568493/composite BACHY -0.25% gaining 0.4%, while heavyweight HSBC Holdings PLC /zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed HK:5 +0.16% declined 1.8%.
But resource-sector stocks mostly declined in Hong Kong as well as Shanghai, tracking weak metals prices.
Aluminum Corp. of China /zigman2/quotes/208051344/composite ACH -0.17% /zigman2/quotes/210453246/delayed CN:601600 +2.98% , or Chalco, shed 3%, Jiangxi Copper Co. /zigman2/quotes/204256025/composite JIXAY +37.29% /zigman2/quotes/201334192/delayed CN:600362 +6.67% fell 1.7% and Zhongjin Gold Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207741711/delayed CN:600489 +1.89% shed 2.4% in Shanghai; in Hong Kong, Chalco /zigman2/quotes/202960704/delayed HK:2600 0.00% lost 3.1% and Jiangxi /zigman2/quotes/201668148/delayed HK:358 +2.02% fell 1.4%.
In Tokyo, JFE Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203557603/composite JFEEF -9.76% /zigman2/quotes/204336633/delayed JP:5411 -0.74% fell 0.9% and Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co. /zigman2/quotes/208540098/delayed JP:5706 -0.07% shed 1.4%.
In Sydney, Alumina Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210515632/delayed AU:AWC +2.05% dropped 0.8% and Newcrest Mining Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203840223/delayed AU:NCM +0.18% /zigman2/quotes/203286036/composite NCMGY -1.17% gave up 1.2%.
Shares of Olympus Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206207642/composite OCPNY +0.25% /zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed JP:7733 +0.19% fell 4.1% in Tokyo after the company submitted corrected earnings reports for the past five financial years, after admitting to an accounting scandal.
The day’s losses came after the U.S. Federal Reserve Tuesday didn’t signal that it would launch another round of asset purchases, prompting a retreat for stocks on Wall Street. Read more on U.S. stock markets.
Weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales also damped sentiment, while Europe’s debt troubles and the potential impact on global economic growth are an ongoing concern for investors.
In Japan, shares of exporters continued to weaken on the global-demand outlook, with Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +0.89% /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC -0.84% dropping 2.2% and Komatsu Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204002437/delayed JP:6301 +0.77% /zigman2/quotes/206435044/composite KMTUF +0.14% shedding 1.3%.