Most stocks in Asia edged lower Wednesday, weighed down by resource-related shares and doubts about a global economic recovery, while oil slipped below $70 a barrel ahead of U.S. inventory data that could reflect slowing energy demand.
Several U.S. economic indicators this week have come in below expectations, raising fears that investors may have pushed up equity and commodity prices too far, too quickly.
The U.S. dollar was largely unchanged on the day against the euro and yen , after Brazil, Russia, India and China after a first summit together issued a joint statement that did not mention any doubts about the dollar's role as the primary reserve currency. U.S. crude oil futures fell to $70 a barrel.
The dollar had been under some pressure heading into the summit on fears that Russia, which has publicly made clear it wants to have new world reserve currencies, would coax China into bashing the dollar together.
Besides headlines about the U.S. dollar's global reserve role, perceptions on risk expressed through equity markets have also been a driver. Fears that price increases have run ahead of fundamentals, particularly with earnings estimates for 2010 in the double digits, have weighed on global stocks.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Average closed 0.9 percent higher, with Sanyo Electric jumping 14.3 percent after saying it had secured buyers for its batteries that are used in hybrid cars.
Seoul shares finished half a percent lower with losses by banks such as KB Financial Group
weighing on the index, but key Seoul blue chips including Samsung Electronics outperformed.
Australian shares fell 1.5 percent to the lowest close since June 1, led by top miner BHP Billiton and banks, though conglomerate CSR jumped on plans to spin off its sugar business.
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Hong Kong shares suffered a third straight day of losses, dropping 0.5 percent, after a batch of mixed U.S. economic data stoked investor doubts about an early recovery in the world's largest economy. Asia's largest energy producer PetroChina fell 1.3 percent, while offshore oil producer CNOOC dropped 2 percent.
Singapore's Straits Times Index pared back losses to close 0.7 percent lower. CapitaLand, Southeast Asia's largest developer, gained 1.1 percent after UBS raised its price target to S$4.65 from S$3.20 previously, citing a recovery in China's property sector.
China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.2 percent, led by financial counters, as the market remained weighed down by the expected near-term resumption of initial public equity offerings. Financial shares were weak, with Shenzhen Development Bank sinking, giving back part of a 13 percent gain in the previous two sessions that followed news of Ping An Insurance's plan to boost its stake in the bank to close to 30 percent. Ping An slipped 1.5 percent, extending Tuesday's 4.9 percent drop as investors were wary about the deal's likely benefits for the insurer.