Asian stocks pare gains, end week slightly lower

<p>Asian stocks were mixed but mostly lower after S&P500 futures indicated a 1% overnight fall. The MSCI Asia Pacific, which earlier rose as much as […]</p>

Asian stocks were mixed but mostly lower after S&P500 futures indicated a 1% overnight fall. The MSCI Asia Pacific, which earlier rose as much as 0.9%, lost 0.4%. Euro Stoxx 50 Index futures added 0.6%. The MSCI Asia Pacific is poised for a third straight weekly decline, the longest stretch of losses since June. The equity benchmark, which is down 13% from its May peak, trades at 12.3 times estimated earnings, near late 2008 lows.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.5% and was headed for the only weekly gain among Asia’s developed equity markets. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.2% and Korea’s Kospi fell 1.3%. Japanese stocks declined, extending losses on the Nikkei 225 for a third week, after the government cut its forecast for the country’s economic growth and as concern grew Europe’s debt crisis will spread.

In economic news, India’s industrial production grew at the quickest pace in three months in June, weathering the fastest interest-rate increases among Asia’s major economies. Output at factories, utilities and mines rose 8.8% from a year earlier, following a revised 5.9% gain in May, the Central Statistical Office said in a statement in New Delhi today.

In corporate news, Australian listed Westfield Group – the world’s largest mall operator by assets – plans to build one of Europe’s biggest shopping malls in the fashion center of Milan, its second foray into a new market in a week. The Sydney-based group will invest EUR115m to buy a 50% stake in the site, which it plans to develop with Italian firm Gruppo Stilo, it said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange. Westfield on Aug. 10 said it would buy a 50% stake in Sao Paulo- based mall owner Almeida Junior Shopping Centers SA.

In commodities, corn futures for December delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade gained as much as 0.8% to US$7.20 a bushel, the highest price since June 9, extending yesterday’s 3.7% advance. Wheat for December delivery increased 0.4% to US$7.36 bushel. Gold for immediate delivery shed as much as 0.9% to US$1,748 and traded at US$1,763 at noon in Singapore. Gold is still 6% higher this week after reaching a record US$1,814 yesterday on concern that European and U.S. debt problems may worsen.

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