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Asian stocks fell amid slow holiday trading, with the regional benchmark headed for its worst year since 2008, as the Bank of Japan warned of downside risks to the economy and South Korean consumer confidence slid.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.5 percent after minutes from a central bank meeting last month showed a few board members said Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis and the yen’s rise pose increasing risks to economic growth. Trading volume on the gauge was more than 59 percent below the 100-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s third-largest carmaker by market value, fell 1.7 percent. Sharp Corp., Japan’s largest maker of flat-panel displays, slid 1.4 percent to 711 yen.
South Korea’s Kospi Index (KOSPI) fell 0.8 percent after consumer sentiment slipped. The gauge dropped as much as 2.3 percent after a mistaken order was apparently placed, according to
The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.1 percent. Shares of mainland industrial companies fell after a report that profit growth declined to 24.4 percent in the first 11 months of the year from 25.3 percent in the 10 months through October.
Anhui Conch Cement slid 2.4 percent to 15.11 yuan. Sany Heavy Industry Co. fell 1.9 percent to 11.94 yuan.
Samsung Electro-Mechanics retreated 6.8 percent to 80,700 won in Seoul. The maker of electronic parts will sell its stake in an LED venture to Samsung Electronics Co. for 283 billion won ($244 million), according to a regulatory filing. The value of the deal is lower than expected, Woori Investment & Securities Co. said in a report today. Samsung Electronics gained 0.7 percent to 1.07 million won.
Japanese construction companies advanced after the Nikkei newspaper said the nation will start work on three bullet train lines, citing Transportation Minister Takeshi Maeda. Nishimatsu added 3.2 percent to 129 yen. Matsui Construction Co. rose 3 percent to 307 yen.
Stocks in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index are valued at 12.7 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.8 times for the S&P 500 and 10.5 times for the Stoxx 600. Utilities have lost 27 percent this year, the worst among the 10 industry groups on the Asian benchmark gauge, as Japanese power generators tumbled after a nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.
European stocks closed little changed after data on U.S. house prices and consumer confidence gave conflicting signals about the strength of the world’s largest economy. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 U.S. cities dropped 3.4 percent from October 2010 after decreasing 3.5 percent in the year ended September, the New York-based group said today. The median forecast of 27 economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a 3.2 percent decrease.
Confidence among U.S. consumers rose as an improving job market helped regain all the ground lost following the mid-year government budget battle and credit-rating downgrade. The Conference Board’s index increased to 64.5 this month, exceeding all estimates in a Bloomberg News survey, from a revised 55.2 reading in November, figures from the New York-based private research group showed. The measure averaged 53.7 during the recession that ended in June 2009
The volume of share trading across Europe was reduced today as U.K. and Irish markets remained closed for a second day following the Christmas holiday.
National benchmark indexes gained in 10 of the 16 western European markets trading today. France’s CAC 40 Index added 0.2 percent and Germany’s DAX advanced 0.4 percent. The Swiss Market Index fell 0.1 percent.
Banco Comercial Portugues rallied 6 percent to 12 euro cents and Banco Espirito Santo surged 10 percent to 1.29 euros. Portugal may recapitalize its banks without becoming a shareholder, Jornal de Negocios reported, without saying where it got the information.
Wacker Chemie AG and Symrise AG led chemical makers higher. The German companies added 1.2 percent to 61.56 euros and 2.3 percent to 20.26 euros, respectively.
UniCredit and Mediobanca lost 4.7 percent to 6.58 euros and 4.5 percent to 4.54 euros, respectively, in Milan trading. Intesa Sanpaolo SpA tumbled 3 percent to 1.27 euros.
Italy plans to sell almost 450 billion euros of debt next year to pay for maturing bonds and bills and cover the government’s budget deficit, Il Sole 24-Ore said, citing an interview with Maria Cannata, director of public debt.
Sky Deutschland AG declined 1.9 percent to 1.39 euros. The company won’t show Paramount Pictures Corp.’s movies in 2012, and the change will damp enthusiasm for its movie channel, according to Financial Times Deutschland. Paramount’s films include “Mission Impossible,” “TinTin” and “Titanic.”
U.S. stocks were little changed, following the longest rally since September, as a better-than- estimated consumer confidence report overshadowed a decline in home prices and concern about Europe’s debt crisis.
A four-day rally last week erased the S&P 500’s 2011 loss as data on consumer confidence and housing starts added to expectations the U.S. can weather Europe’s debt woes. It fell as much as 19 percent from this year’s high in April on concern over Europe’s crisis.
Stocks rose today on data showing confidence among U.S. consumers increased in December to the highest level in eight months. Another report showed that residential real estate prices dropped more than forecast in the year ended October. Italian bonds reversed losses that had driven yields to 7.14 percent today. The nation is preparing to auction as much as 20 billion euros ($26.2 billion) of debt in the next two days.
Dow 12,292.71 -1.29 -0.01%, Nasdaq 2,625.20 +6.56 +0.25%, S&P 500 1,265.56 +0.23 +0.02%
Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., the leading seller of children’s formula, jumped 5.95 percent after saying tests showed no bacteria in a batch of the product used by a baby who died.
MetLife Inc. rose 0.5 percent as General Electric Co.’s financial- services division will acquire its U.S. retail deposit business.
Sears Holdings Corp. tumbled 27 percent after saying it will close as many as 120 Kmart and Sears full-line stores.
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