Asian stocks trade little changed, yen weighs on Japan exporters

A man walking past a share prices board in Tokyo on Nov 2.
A man walking past a share prices board in Tokyo on Nov 2.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks were little changed on Thursday (Nov 12) after a drop in US shares. A stronger yen weighed on Japanese exporters, while energy companies retreated after a decline in oil prices.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was unchanged at 133.06 as of 9:07 am in Tokyo. Japan's Topix index lost less than 0.1 per cent as the yen held gains against the dollar. The gauge rose to a 12-week high on Wednesday, bringing its gain for the year to 13 per cent. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 0.3 per cent on Wednesday.

"Japanese markets have been pushed to the limit as well as US stocks," said Mitsushige Akino, executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management in Tokyo. "We haven't had bullish factors to lift markets at the moment."

With US data and policy makers signaling the world's biggest economy may be strong enough to withstand higher rates, investors are monitoring figures from overseas to gauge whether there are any threats to growth that may still concern the Federal Reserve.

Reports on Wednesday showed Chinese factory output growth continued to weaken in October, suggesting monetary and fiscal easing have yet to spur any notable acceleration in growth.

The odds the Federal Reserve will raise rates at its Dec 15-16 meeting have risen to 66 per cent from 39 per cent a month ago. Fed officials including chair Janet Yellen are due to speak a policy conference on Thursday.

New Zealand's S&P NZX 50 Index added 0.2 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.4 per cent. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading.

Chinese shares in Hong Kong dropped for a fourth day on Wednesday as weaker-than-forecast growth in industrial output increased concern China's economic slowdown is deepening.

Wednesday's data show old growth engines are faltering. Industrial output rose 5.6 per cent in October from a year earlier. Fixed-asset investment increased 10.2 per cent in the first 10 months, the slowest pace since 2000. Retail sales climbed 11 per cent last month, the quickest gain this year.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were little changed on Thursday. The underlying measure's drop on Wednesday came amid a selloff in retail shares as Macy's missed its third-quarter sales estimates and cut its annual profit forecast.

Crude futures rose 0.5 per cent after sliding 2.9 per cent in New York on Wednesday.