Asian stocks fell this week, with the benchmark index erasing its gain for the year, amid concern China’s faster-than-expected economic growth will add pressure for it to step up measures to combat inflation.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, slid 2.5 percent in Sydney as commodity prices retreated. Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s No. 1 commodities trader, declined 4.1 percent in Tokyo. Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil producer, dropped 2.1 percent in Hong Kong. James Hardie Industries SE, the biggest seller of home siding in the U.S., declined 3.1 percent in Sydney.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index retreated 1.7 percent to 136.48 this week, halting five straight weeks of advance. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 1.7 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 2.7 percent.
Stocks in Indonesia and neighboring Philippines also slid, driving their benchmark indexes more than 10 percent below recent highs, on concern inflation will lead to higher borrowing costs and pare corporate earnings.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 2.1 percent this week, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 1 percent.
European stocks posted their first weekly decline this year amid speculation the Chinese government will lift interest rates and as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. posted earnings that failed to exceed analysts’ estimates.
Volkswagen AG and Porsche SE led declines in carmakers, both falling more than 9 percent. EasyJet Plc sank 15 percent after saying its first-half loss may double. ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG fell after Citigroup Inc. cut its recommendation on the stock. Utilities, a so-called defensive sector, posted the best performance among 19 industry groups in the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
The Stoxx 600 dropped 0.9 percent this week, after rising for two straight weeks. Even so, the gauge is still up 2 percent this year as reports suggested the global economy continues to recover and investors speculated that European leaders will increase their efforts to contain the region’s debt crisis.
U.S. stocks fell, ending the longest weekly winning streak for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since 2007, after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. failed to beat analysts’ earnings estimates and housing starts slid more than forecast.
The S&P 500 pared its weekly slump yesterday after General Electric Co. reported higher-than-projected profit, driving its shares up 7.1 percent. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup fell more than 4.6 percent this week after less trading hurt their earnings. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. plunged 8.4 percent after cutting its sales forecasts, while Massey Energy Co. lost 4.8 percent, the most for a week since September.
The S&P 500 declined 0.8 percent to 1,283.35 this week, the first drop after seven straight weeks of gains. It retreated 1 percent on Jan. 19, the biggest one-day drop since November. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 84.46 points, or 0.7 percent, to 11,871.84. The indexes hadn’t moved in opposite directions since October. Stock exchanges were closed on Jan. 17 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.