Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Asian Stocks Drop in U.S. for 3rd Day; BHP, Oil Producers Fall

By Michael Patterson

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Asian shares trading in the U.S. fell for a third day after lower oil prices dragged down energy companies and Rio Tinto Group rejected BHP Billiton Ltd.'s $147 billion takeover offer.

BHP, the world's biggest mining company, dropped the most in three weeks after Rio said the sweetened bid ``significantly'' undervalues the iron-ore and copper producer. PetroChina Co., the country's largest energy company, and Cnooc Ltd., China's third- biggest oil producer, declined after prices for crude oil and gasoline retreated.

The Bank of New York Asia ADR Index, which tracks American depositary receipts of the region's companies, slumped 1.6 percent to 149.21. Nikkei 225 Stock Average futures expiring in March were at 13,035 in Chicago, compared with 13,205 in Singapore and 13,110 in Osaka.

The Asia ADR Index has declined 20 percent from its peak in October on concern that the U.S. economy will slip into a recession and curb demand for the commodities and consumer goods produced by Asian companies. The index is still 2.4 percent above its 2008 low on Jan. 22, buoyed by two interest-rate cuts from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

U.S. stocks fell today after the drop in oil prices pushed down energy companies, Macy's Inc. cut its earnings forecast and a Federal Reserve official signaled that higher inflation may prevent more rate cuts. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 0.8 percent to 1,326.45.

BHP Retreats

BHP declined $3.38, or 4.9 percent, to $66.10. The Melbourne-based company's bid doesn't ``recognize the underlying value'' of London-based Rio's assets and prospects, Rio Chairman Paul Skinner said in a statement. BHP had raised the offer by 13 percent five days after Aluminum Corp. of China, the nation's biggest aluminum company, bought a stake in Rio to block the takeover.

Charles Kernot, an analyst at Seymour Pierce Ltd. in London, said BHP may be able to raise the bid again. Aluminum Corp. of China fell 2.8 percent to $38.42.

Crude oil for March delivery slid 1.4 percent to $87.14 a barrel in New York after the U.S. government reported that inventories surged the most in almost four years as refineries slowed operating rates and imports climbed.

PetroChina dropped $7.78, or 5.2 percent, to $140.57. Cnooc fell $7.72, or 5.1 percent, to $142.90.

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