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April 17, 2012, 5:27 a.m. EDT

Asian stocks slide on China, Spain worries

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By Sarah Turner and V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Asian stocks skidded on Tuesday amid lingering worries about Spain’s debt troubles, with mainland Chinese and Hong Kong stocks dropping after data showing foreign direct investment in the mainland continued to decline.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.84% lost 0.2% to 20,562.31 and China’s Shanghai Composite index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 -4.31%  contracted 0.9% to 2,334.98. Taiwan’s Taiex  fell the most in the region, dropping 1.9% to 7,585.87, as technology stocks there took a beating after an overnight decline on Nasdaq.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.61%  gave up 0.3% to 4,288.80, South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -0.81%  fell 0.4% to 1,985.30 and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -1.06%  slipped 0.1% to 9,464.71.

Data released Tuesday showed foreign direct investment into China fell 6.1% in March from the year-earlier period to $11.76 billion, reflecting the impact of the European debt crisis and slowing Chinese economic growth. Read more on Chinese FDI data.

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“The FDI data wasn’t as bad as forecast, but it was still bad. It shows there is a slowdown in investment in China because people are concerned that growth prospects out of China are becoming much weaker,” said Andrew Sullivan, principal sales trader at Piper Jaffray.

Chinese banks were among the notable losers. China Construction Bank Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed HK:939 -1.84%   /zigman2/quotes/207732534/delayed CICHY -1.05% /zigman2/quotes/208058581/delayed CN:601939 -4.38%  dropped 1.1% and Bank of Communications Co. /zigman2/quotes/203442771/delayed HK:3328 -1.88% /zigman2/quotes/202128064/delayed BCMXY +1.85% /zigman2/quotes/208048873/delayed BKFCF -1.69% /zigman2/quotes/207155262/delayed CN:601328 -2.87% shed 0.2% in Shanghai; in Hong Kong, CCB lost 2%, while BoCom ended flat.

Chinese airline stocks extended their drop after both China Southern Airlines Co. /zigman2/quotes/208800010/delayed HK:1055 -2.67%   /zigman2/quotes/206691352/composite ZNH -0.59%  and China Eastern Airlines Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205483076/composite CEA -0.91%   /zigman2/quotes/203578936/delayed HK:670 -2.41%  issued profit warnings recently. China Southern fell 1.5% and China Eastern gave up 1.9% in Shanghai; in Hong Kong, they dropped 3.5% and 3.9%, respectively.

Shares of SouthGobi Resources Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204357902/delayed HK:1878 -1.00% /zigman2/quotes/203149044/delayed SGQRF +0.54% slumped 10% in Hong Kong after the company announced that its auditors Deloitte & Touche LLP resigned with effect from April 2.

The company also said Mongolia has asked the company to suspend exploration and mining activity in the country, in relation with Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., or Chalco’s proposed takeover bid for the company. Chalco /zigman2/quotes/202960704/delayed HK:2600 -3.50% /zigman2/quotes/208051344/composite ACH -2.53% shares fell 1.6% in Hong Kong and 1% in Shanghai.

Meanwhile, Sullivan said higher Spanish bond yields broadly translate to a weaker euro, and companies trading with euro-denominated payment schemes — such as Hong Kong-listed clothing company Esprit Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205943307/delayed HK:330 +67.05%   /zigman2/quotes/206195919/delayed ESPGY +48.72% , which has a large operation in Germany and receives a large part of revenues in euros — will see their results suffer. Esprit stock fell 1.2% in Hong Kong.

“It tends to be that the exporters are the ones that get hit. The yen has also strengthened again on concerns about Europe, and I think this is going to continue,” Sullivan said.

Auto makers were among the Japanese exporters that finished lower amid the yen’s recent firmness. Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 -2.98% /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC +1.04% fell 1.9% and Toyota Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM +0.92% /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 -2.10% declined 0.9%.

Mining stocks lost ground in Australia, with Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +1.62% /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.69%  sliding 0.8% after reporting a a modest 2% increase in first-quarter iron ore shipments and a sharp fall in copper production during the first quarter.

Rival BHP Billiton Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP +1.13% /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -0.74%  lost 0.5%.

Shares of Toshiba Tec Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206673677/delayed JP:6588 +0.72%   jumped 6.9%, after a Nikkei news report said it would buy IBM Corp.’s /zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite IBM +2.28% point-of-sale terminal business. Read more on Toshiba’s reported deal for IBM’s POS business.

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AU : Australia: Sydney
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Market Cap
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Rev. per Employee
N/A
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JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 4,205.00
+30.00 +0.72%
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/zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite
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5.51%
Market Cap
$105.08 billion
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$208,845
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Sarah Turner is MarketWatch's bureau chief in Sydney. Varahabhotla Phani Kumar is a reporter in MarketWatch's Hong Kong bureau.

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