Asian stocks fall before European Central Bank stimulus decision

SYDNEY (Bloomberg) - Asian stocks fell even amid speculation the European Central Bank will boost stimulus through a sovereign- bond purchase program under the quantitative-easing strategy.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.1 per cent to 134.46 as of 9:05 a.m. in Tokyo before markets open in China and Hong Kong.

An ECB Executive Board proposal calls for as much as 1 trillion euros in asset purchases through the end of 2016, according to two euro-area central-bank officials who have seen the document.

The ECB proposal could still be changed significantly, the people said, asking not to be identified as it is confidential. Purchases won't start before March 1, one of the people said. The central bank will announce its policy decision on Thursday at about 9:30pm Singapore time.

"I'm not convinced that even a 1 trillion euro package will be enough to save the euro area," said Matthew Sherwood, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Perpetual Ltd., which has about US$21 billion in funds under management. "It may be the case that this process has dragged on so long it's mostly factored into financial market prices."

Japan's Topix index slid 0.1 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.5 per cent and South Korea's Kospi index added 0.4 per cent.