Asian stocks fell the most in three weeks as Chinese manufacturing growth slowed, and Thailand’s baht dropped amid unrest. Oil and copper gained as inventories fell, while gold rose after the worst annual loss since 1981.
The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index slipped 0.5 percent at 6:22 a.m. in London, the most since Dec. 12, as Thai and South Korean share gauges fell more than 2 percent. Bullion for immediate delivery jumped 1.7 percent after slumping 28 percent in 2013 and copper climbed to the highest in almost seven months. The baht dropped for a record 11th day. West Texas Intermediate for February delivery rose 0.3 percent.
Nations from Germany to the U.S. issue manufacturing gauges today, after the official Chinese index dropped more than estimated in December. Demand for gold as a preserver of wealth collapsed last year as the global economy showed signs of improving and inflation remained contained even amid central bank stimulus. An industry report showed oil supplies in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer, fell by 5.67 million barrels last week.