Commodity Slide Drags Asia Stocks Lower – Barron's

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Asian stocks came under pressure on Wednesday as declining commodity prices continued to weigh on the market.

Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed down for the fourth straight day, falling 0.6% to 5,934, with commodity and energy stocks among the worst performers. Nickel sulphide producer Western Areas (WSA.AU) fell 5.49% after the three-month price of nickel plummeted on the London Metal Exchange on Tuesday, while miners Independence Group (IGO), Iluka Resources (ILU.AU) and  Sandfire Resources (SFR.AU) all fell more than 4%. Mining giants BHP Billton (BHP.AU) and Rio Tinto (RIO.AU) fell 2.2% and  2.7%, respectively. Australian Agricultural Co. (AAC.AU) was the worst performing stock, losing 7.4% after posting a statutory ebitda loss of AUD38 million which included a mark-to-market value of its livestock inventory. DuluxGroup was the best performing stock after the paint supplier posted a 10% year-on-year increase in net profit and declared a final dividend of 13.5 cents a share, taking the full year dividend to 26.5 cents, representing a 10.4% increase from last year.

Chinese stocks closed lower with the Shanghai Composite 0.71% down amid a recent pickup in bond volatility. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Sang Index fell 0.83% with only 10 of the 50 constituents in the green.  China Resources Power (836.HK) was the best performer, gaining just 1.58%. Petrochina (857.HK) was the worst performing stock, falling 3.13% on lower oil prices.  Tencent (700.HK) closed 1.2% down ahead of its eagerly anticipated earnings. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index, known as the H-shares gauge, fell 1.63% with just two stocks closing higher – Air China (753.HK) gained 1.57%, while  property developer China Vanke (2202.HK) gained 0.36%. Car makers led the decline amid a weak outlook for the Chinese auto sector with Warren Buffet-backed BYD (1211.HK) falling 4.49% and Great Wall Motors (2333.HK) dropping 2.02%.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 1.57% as the Japanese yen pushed higher, while the economy grew for the seventh straight quarter. As elsewhere, commodity and energy stocks were among the worst performers: Oil refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu (5002.JP) fell 6.8% while steel maker Kobe Steel (5406.JP) fell 4%.

Elsewhere, Korea’s KOSPI closed 0.33% lower, while Taiwan’s TAIEX slipped 0.53%.

European markets are tracking weakness in Asia with the Euro STOXX 0.63% lower, while the German DAX is 0.78% down..