Stocks: Weekly review
Asian stocks fell, dragging a regional benchmark index down for the first time this week, as Japanese banks dropped after Standard & Poor’s cut the nation’s credit rating, and commodity shares declined.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s two biggest publicly traded banks, sank more than 1.5 percent in Tokyo. BHP Billiton Ltd. declined 1.1 percent in Sydney. Cnooc Ltd., China’s No. 1 offshore oil producer, slumped 7 percent in Hong Kong after forecasting production growth will slow this year. Canon Inc., the world’s biggest camera maker, slid 3.1 percent in Tokyo after reporting lower-than-forecast operating profit.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.6 percent to 137.42 as of 7:26 p.m. in Tokyo, with about three times as many stocks declining as advancing. Eight of 10 industry groups retreated.
The MSCI gauge had its first weekly drop in 1 1/2 months last week amid concern faster-than-expected economic growth in China will add pressure on policy makers to accelerate efforts to tame inflation. The MSCI index is on course for a 0.7 percent gain this week, and a 0.3 percent decrease this year.
European stocks declined, erasing a weekly advance for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule intensified with clashes erupting in central Cairo.
Stocks with sales in Egypt such as Italcementi SpA and Lafarge SA declined. Sanofi-Aventis tumbled 3.8 percent after saying an experimental drug failed to prolong survival in a key study. Rio Tinto Group led raw-material shares to the biggest drop among 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600. Fiat SpA sank 4.3 percent as Credit Suisse Group AG cut its recommendation on the carmaker.
The Stoxx 600 slid 0.9 percent to 280.45 at the 4:30 p.m. close in London. The gauge has still advanced 1.7 percent this year amid better-than-forecast economic reports and speculation that European leaders will increase their efforts to contain the region’s sovereign-debt crisis.
Mubarak, in his role as military leader, ordered the army to help police implement a curfew from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. in the capital, and in Alexandria and Suez, state television said.
U.S. stocks fell, putting the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s longest weekly rally since 1995 in jeopardy, as declines by Ford Motor Co. and Amazon.com Inc. and intensifying unrest in Egypt overshadowed an acceleration in American economic growth.
Ford plunged 13 percent as the automaker said profit slid 79 percent. Amazon declined 9 percent after saying earnings may miss analysts’ projections. Microsoft Corp. had the biggest drop in the Dow, retreating 4.2 percent, after a shortfall in Windows revenue raised concerns about future demand. The NYSE Arca Airline Index lost 4.3 percent as oil jumped 4.4 percent.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 1.6 percent, the most on a closing basis since August, to 1,279.16 at 12:15 p.m. in New York. The Dow slid 155.72 points, or 1.3 percent, to 11,834.11. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, which measures the cost of insurance against losses in stocks, jumped 22 percent after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak imposed a nationwide curfew following a day of protests aimed at undermining his 30-year rule.