HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian markets fell Thursday as skepticism the European Central Bank will announce bold measures to ease the region’s debt troubles turned investors cautious a day after the Federal Reserve also refrained from further monetary stimulus.
Chinese stocks retreated on a sharp decline in property developers, with investors also shrugging off a regulator’s repeated appeal for companies to buy back their own shares. Japanese stocks ended marginally higher as some automobile majors advanced on upbeat U.S. sales and a few strong earnings reports.
/zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed NIK 23,386.74, -92.41, -0.39%
/zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HSI 27,308.81, -300.35, -1.09%
China’s Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 -0.06% and South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -1.49% shed 0.6% each, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.09% dropped 0.7%.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.39% inched up 0.1% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.33% climbed 0.2% after a choppy session ahead of the ECB meeting. Read preview of ECB meeting.
“The risk is that they don’t do anything, or what they offer is minimal. It hinges on [ECB President Mario] Draghi’s success to push euro bonds,” said Tom Kaan, director of equity sales at Louis Capital Markets in Hong Kong.
“The market is beginning to discount that ‘Super Mario’ will be able to do something,” he said. “The problem is the kryptonite is still in [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel’s hands.”
Kryptonite is a fictional material that weakens Superman’s superhero powers.
The market is beginning to discount that ‘Super Mario’ will be able to do something. ... The problem is the kryptonite is still in [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel’s hands.
—Tom Kaan, director of equity sales at Louis Capital Markets
Chinese property-developer shares traded sharply lower, after data a day earlier showing a rise in housing prices sparked concerns about future government curbs for the sector. Read more on China property shares.
Poly Real Estate Group Co. Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201864015/delayed CN:600048 -1.98% plunged 9.2% and Gemdale Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208026094/delayed CN:600383 -2.07% sank 6.4% in Shanghai, while China Vanke Co. skidded 6.8% in Shenzhen.
In Hong Kong, China Resources Land Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/209191868/delayed CRBJY +7.06% /zigman2/quotes/202417326/delayed HK:1109 -1.26% tumbled 4.6% and China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202573805/delayed CAOVY -0.92% /zigman2/quotes/205731176/delayed HK:688 -2.34% gave up 3.4%.
The drop for mainland stocks although an official at the China Securities Regulatory Commission reportedly asked companies again to buy back their shares — the second time for such an appeal this week by the regulator.
Chinese financial stocks also weakened in Hong Kong, with China Life Insurance Co. /zigman2/quotes/206573290/composite LFC -0.56% /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 -1.43% dropping 1.6% and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 -0.54% losing 0.9%.
Japanese shares were propped up by some upbeat sales and earnings reports.