After getting off to a strong start, Asian shares slumped in afternoon trading Monday and closed lower, as a lack of regional data led investors to mull further U.S. credit concerns and uncertainty in markets there.
The Hang Seng ended the day down 154 points, or 0.56%, to 27,460, while the Shanghai Composite Index dipped 46 points, or 0.9%, to 5269. In Japan, the Nikkei lost 112 points, or 0.74%, to 15,042. The South Korean Kospi declined the most of all Asian indices, slipping 33 points, or 1.7%, to 1,893.
Still, many fund managers and strategists continue to expect new highs for the end of the year. "
Hong Kong probably is overvalued, but that doesn't mean it's a bad investment," says Maarten-Jan Baakum, a buy-side emerging markets strategist for ABN Amro.
"You'll see new highs. There are good
capital flows, the weak dollar helps a lot.
Lower global growth expectation doesn't help, but that hasn't been a big driver for Hong Kong in particular in the last few years," he said.
Among Hong Kong shares, momentum blue-chip stocks felt the worst of the selling, except in telecoms, which were mixed on upbeat news.
A report issued in Beijing announced that telecom carriers may get 3G wireless network licenses as early as the beginning of next year. One of China's homegrown 3G technologies, known as TD-SCDMA, is also rumored to undergo commercial trials as early as next month. That's big news for the telecoms, since uncertainty over the issuing of 3G mobile licenses is seen as the major risk factor for these companies.
rose 5.5% on the news, to HK$21.15, while
advanced 4.61% to HK$5.45.
rose 0.4%, to HK$15.32. Only
sold off, losing 1.05% to HK$131.80, on fears of increased competition.
China Life Insurance
tumbled 2% to HK$42.60, and
declined 3.05% to HK$87.35.
continued a downward trend after last week's $1.4 billion in additional writedowns, losing 0.51% to HK%135.50.
Hong Kong property stocks were mixed, with
Cheung Kong Holdings
up 0.7% to HK$138.60,
Sun Hung Kai Properties
tumbling 5.5% to HK$11, and
off 0.3%, to HK$87.90.
Despite positive announcements on the mainland, shares there couldn't pick up momentum throughout the trading day.
In China, the index tracking properties there -- known as the real estate climate index -- rose 0.7% in October, to 105.74. A reading above 100 is seen as a positive for the industry.
A Shanghai stock exchange official announced today that execs at the bourse are looking into listing a select number of foreign multinationals on the exchange. In particular, the exchange is looking at HSBC,
, said Que Bo, assistant general manager of the Shanghai stock exchange, in an announcement.
Bo told local journalists that the move would come "to strengthen the blue-chip market," and that it would include multinationals "which have developed very well in China."
In Japan, sluggish data from department-store sales and a rising yen dragged down exporters like
, which fell as much as 3.11%.
bucked the trend however, up 0.16% to 6.120 yen and 0.26% to 3,790 yen, respectively.
Department-store sales in Japan fell 1.4% on year in October, but that was up from a decline of 2.5% in September.
Major Asian currencies were broadly stronger on the selloff in equities. The yen strengthened vs. the dollar, to 110.52 vs. 111 on Sunday, while the Chinese yuan was also higher, at 7.424 vs. 7.432 a day earlier.
The yuan is widely expected to continue to strengthen against the dollar to around 7. On Sunday, China's central banking chief Zhou Xiaochuan told local journalists that Beijing may set a "floating band" -- a specific fixed trading range which broadly moves with currency swings -- for the yuan vs. global currencies.
In Korea, steelmaker
lost 1.9% to 571,000 won, while
slid 3.4% to 68,200 won.
ABN Amro's Baakum says that markets in southeast Asia right now are a "very mixed bag."
In India, shares on the Bombay Sensitive Index were mostly flat, with the index down 0.33% to 19.633.
"Thailand is very cheap right now if you believe that the political situation will resolve itself, while India is on the expensive side," he adds.
Daniel M. Harrison is a business journalist specialising in European and emerging markets, in particular Asia. He has an MBA from BI, Norway and a blog at
. He lives in New York.