Thursday, May 7, 2009

Asian Stocks Decline on Valuation Concerns; Energy Shares Rise

Asian stocks fell for the first time in five days, led by automakers and mining shares, on concern a two-month rally had made stocks expensive relative to earnings prospects. Energy shares advanced after oil prices climbed.

Toyota Motor Corp. declined 1.7 percent after the Nikkei English News reported the automaker may miss its full-year loss forecast. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s No. 1 mining company, sank 1.7 percent after copper prices slid. Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s No. 2 oil producer, gained 1.2 percent as crude-oil futures headed for the biggest weekly gain since March.

Four stocks declined for every three that gained on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, which fell 0.6 percent to 96.68 as of 10:46 a.m. in Tokyo. The drop pared its gain this week to 6.4 percent. The index yesterday closed at its highest since Oct. 7.

“The market is overheated,” said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager at Nikko Cordial Securities Co. “Investors are nervous about company earnings and would like to take profit before the weekend.”

Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.1 percent to 9,396.79. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.6 percent. Most markets open for trading in the region declined.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.7 percent. The gauge fell 1.3 percent yesterday from a four-month high, led by financial, telephone and technology shares.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, lost 1.7 percent to 3,970 yen. The company may report an operating loss of about 500 billion yen ($5 billion) for the year ended March 31, compared with its 450 billion yen loss forecast, the newspaper said today.

BHP dropped 1.7 percent to A$35.07. Copper futures for July delivery declined 1 percent yesterday, retreating from a three- week high. A gauge of six metals in London was almost unchanged.

Woodside gained 1.2 percent to A$44.07. Crude oil futures in New York gained 18 cents to $56.89 a barrel. Yesterday, oil closed at $56.71, the highest settlement since Nov. 14. Prices have gained 7.5 percent this week, poised for the largest gain since the week ended March 20.