Asian stocks dropped, pushing the regional gauge toward its biggest weekly slump since June as the outlook for China’s economy worsened and Crimea prepared to vote on seceding from Ukraine. The Korean won led declines in emerging-market currencies while gold and silver climbed.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index sank 1.2 percent by 9:54 a.m. in Tokyo, set for its lowest close since Feb. 10 and a 3 percent drop in the week, the first decline in more than a month. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average slid 2.4 percent, posting the worst weekly drop among developed markets. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures rose 0.2 percent after the U.S. gauge erased 2014 gains. The won touched a 1 1/2-week low as the Malaysian and Thai currencies slipped. Gold advanced to a six-month high.
The Black Sea region of Crimea votes on whether to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia March 16 with the U.S. and Germany stepping up pressure on Moscow over their support for the secession. Global stocks are posting their longest run of daily declines since 2012 as disappointing Chinese economic data over the past week trumped signs of improvement in the U.S. India reports a key inflation indicator today while Japan posts factory output. The euro region issues quarterly jobs data.
“There’s a lot of concern out there,” Robert Aspin, the Singapore-based head of equity investment strategy at Standard Chartered Plc, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “Contagion from Ukraine will be fairly limited. Our bigger focus right now is on China and the recent data of the past two weeks that’s been fairly negative.”