Asian stocks fell, pushing the regional index down for the second day this week, as Japanese shares retreated and Australia’s dollar slipped amid concern over the impact of a weaker Chinese yuan. Gold held near an almost four-month high while oil rose before supplies data.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.4 percent by 9:57 a.m. in Tokyo, trimming its February advance to 2 percent as Japan’s Topix Index lost 0.7 percent. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) futures rose 0.1 percent. The currency of Australia, which counts China as its biggest trading partner, fell 0.3 percent. Gold was steady after four rising days as oil in New York rose 0.2 percent. Natural gas extended losses into a third day.
The yuan’s biggest drop since 2010 stoked speculation China’s central bank is planning to give the managed currency more leeway with lawmakers to start meetings on economic policy and growth targets next week. In the U.S., consumer confidence fell more than analysts estimated and manufacturing in the Richmond area unexpectedly shrank, with mortgages and new home sales data due today. Singapore reports on factory output and Hong Kong is projected to post faster growth for last quarter.