Japan, Thai Stocks Lead Asian Declines; Banks Buoy South Korea

Japan, Thai Stocks Lead Asian Declines; Banks Buoy South Korea

Japanese and Thai stocks fell in Asia after Toyota Motor Corp.’s debt rating was cut and anti- government protesters shut Bangkok’s main airport. South Korean banks gained after regulators said risks are being controlled.

By Patrick Rial and Shani Raja

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) — Japanese and Thai stocks fell in Asia after Toyota Motor Corp.’s debt rating was cut and anti- government protesters shut Bangkok’s main airport. South Korean banks gained after regulators said risks are being controlled.

Toyota dropped 4.6 percent after Fitch Ratings lowered the world’s second-largest automaker’s debt to AA. Thai Airways International PCL sank 5.8 percent. Rio Tinto Group slumped 34 percent, leading Australian shares lower, after BHP Billiton Ltd. dropped its takeover bid for the rival miner. Woori Finance Holdings Co. surged 15 percent in Seoul.

“Companies that have kept their balance sheets in order and have stronger business models will get through this better,” said Hugh Dive, Who helps manage about $3 billion at Sydney-based Investors Mutual Ltd.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.3 percent to 79.77 at 3:58 p.m. in Tokyo. About eight stocks fell for every seven that gained. The measure surged 4.1 percent yesterday, the biggest in three weeks, fueled by a surge in commodity prices and the U.S. government’s rescue of Citigroup Inc.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 1.3 percent to 8,213.22 on the lightest trading day of the year for Japan in terms of value. Other Asian benchmark indexes were mixed.

U.S. stocks advanced for a third day yesterday as the Federal Reserve committed an additional $800 billion to unlocking credit markets. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index swung between gains and losses more than 20 times before closing 0.7 percent higher. Futures on the index lost 0.4 percent in trading today.

Fed Assistance

The Fed said yesterday it will purchase as much as $600 billion of debt issued or backed by government-chartered housing- finance companies and establish a $200 billion program to shore up consumer and small-business loans.

More than half of stocks in Asia have sunk below their book value as the collapse of the U.S. housing market curbed consumer spending on Asian-made goods and reduced demand for fuel and other commodities. MSCI’s Asian index has tumbled by 49 percent this year as the global economy slipped into recession.

Toyota slumped 4.6 percent to 2,985 yen. Fitch lowered its rating on the company and added that the weak auto market could trigger additional downgrades. The company has slashed production and sales forecasts in recent months to cope with a global recession that has eroded demand for expensive items such as cars.

Honda Motor Co. fell 1.9 percent to 2,050 yen. Denso Corp., the world’s largest listed auto-parts maker, slumped 5.5 percent to 1,519 yen.

OECD Forecast

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development cut its 2009 growth forecast for its 30 members yesterday to a 0.4 percent contraction, from a previous estimat of 0.3 percent, and called on governments to use fiscal and monetary policy to ease the worst recession since the early 1980s. more

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