Asian stocks decline as Tokyo shares slump on weak economic data, STI down 0.2%

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks fell on Monday (April 11), ahead of Chinese data on inflation and factory prices, as Japanese shares retreated amid a slump in machine orders. Energy producers climbed as US oil topped US$40 a barrel.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.4 per cent to 125.83 as of 9:08 am in Tokyo.

Japan's Topix index declined 1 per cent after a report showed machine orders dropped in February for the first time in three months. The benchmark equities gauge is down 18 per cent in 2016, the steepest decline in global markets behind Italy. BlackRock, the world's largest money manager, is among firms ending bullish calls on Japan equities.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was down 0.24 per cent at 2,801.52 as of 9:27 am.

South Korea's Kospi index slipped 0.1 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index added less than 0.1 per cent.

Global stocks fell last week amid concern over the potency of central bank stimulus efforts and a selloff in Japanese equities. Focus now turns to Monday's data from China and first-quarter earnings in the US.

"It appears to us that the flashy rally in risk assets seen in recent weeks is faltering," said Stewart Richardson, chief investment officer at RMG Wealth Management in London. "The bearish macro story that we have been discussing for a long time remains in place, and it appears that investors are losing their faith in central bank policies."

Futures on Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index were down 0.2 per cent and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index dropped 0.3 per cent. FTSE China A50 Index futures rose 0.1 per cent in most recent trading.

Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell less than 0.1 per cent. The underlying gauge ended Friday up 0.3 per cent.

Oil extended gains after the biggest jump in almost two months as US drillers idled more rigs ahead of talks on Sunday between the world's biggest producers about freezing output.

West Texas Intermediate for May delivery advanced as much as 75 cents to US$40.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at US$40.14 at 8:21 am Hong Kong time. The contract rose US$2.46 to US$39.72 a barrel on Friday, capping an 8 per cent weekly gain.