Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Asian Stocks Decline in U.S., Led by Toyota, on Growth Concern

By Lu Wang and Patrick Rial

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks trading in the U.S. fell to the lowest in six weeks after worse-than-expected home sales stoked concern consumer spending in the world's biggest economy is slowing. Toyota Motor Corp. led the retreat.

The Bank of New York Co.'s Asia ADR Index, tracking American depositary receipts of the region's companies, slipped 0.9 percent to 160.09, the lowest since Nov. 21. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average futures expiring in March last traded at 14,350 in Chicago, compared with the close of 14,540 in Osaka and Singapore yesterday.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 60.30, or 1 percent to 6,067.80 as of 10:18 a.m. in Sydney. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index, Asia's first benchmark to begin trading, declined 1.1 percent, to 3,885.38 in Wellington, set for its lowest close since Dec. 7, 2006.

``There are a lot of uncertainties overhanging the U.S. and Japanese economies,'' said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc. ``We're in for a bearish day.''

The National Association of Realtors' index of pending home sales decreased 2.6 percent to 87.6 in November, the group said in Washington. Economists predicted a 0.7 percent decline.

U.S. shares also fell after AT&T Inc. said more customers are missing payments, pointing to a widening fallout from the housing recession. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 1.8 percent to 1,390.19 in New York, the lowest since March.

Toyota, which overtook Ford Motor Co. as the No. 2 seller of autos in the U.S., dropped $1.43 to $103.04. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., the world's largest maker of consumer electronics, fell 51 cents to $19.49. Canon Inc., Japan's biggest office-equipment maker, lost 99 cents to $44.54.

Chipmakers' Sales

Some chipmakers fell after United Microelectronics Corp. reported slowing sales. The world's second-largest supplier of made-to-order semiconductor chips said December sales rose 1.1 percent from a year earlier to NT$8.5 billion ($261.9 million), slowing from 3.9 percent in November. The stock declined 8 cents to $3.08.

Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., Singapore's top chipmaker, slid 13 cents to $6.46.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. led Asian lenders lower after Merrill Lynch & Co. said Citigroup Inc., the biggest U.S. bank, may be forced to write down an additional $16 billion for the fourth quarter.

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