Emerging stocks in for fourth day of losses, Thai baht slides

The Thai baht slumped to a six-year low retreating four per cent against the US dollar, September 24, 2015. — File pic
The Thai baht slumped to a six-year low retreating four per cent against the US dollar, September 24, 2015. — File pic

HONG KONG, Sept 24 — Emerging-market stocks headed for the longest streak of declines in a month, led by Chinese shares in Hong Kong, as investors weigh the timing of US interest-rate increases. The Thai baht slumped to a six-year low.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp fell 2.6 per cent in Hong Kong, sending a gauge of energy shares toward its lowest level since 2008. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies sank for a fourth day amid concern an economic slowdown in China is deepening. TPK Holding Co slid the most in a month in Taipei after a downgrade to its stock rating. The baht retreated 0.4 per cent against the US dollar.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.5 per cent to 787.91 at 1.53pm in Hong Kong, heading for a four-day, 5.1 per cent slump. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to deliver a speech today that may indicate to investors when US rates will increase this year. Hong Kong-listed Chinese stocks extended losses after preliminary data on Wednesday showed a factory gauge fell to the lowest level since the depths of the global financial crisis.

“Most investors are holding back and will continue to stay on the sidelines as the question remains, ‘When will the US raise its rates,’” said Jonathan Ravelas, the Manila-based chief market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc. “Adding to market nervousness are signs of a possible deeper economic slowdown in China.”

The MSCI developing-nations measure has declined 18 per cent this year, and is valued at 10.4 times its estimated earnings for the next 12 months. The MSCI World Index of developed-country equities, which trades at a multiple of 14.8 times, has fallen 6.7 per cent since the start of the year.

Eight of 10 industry groups in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index declined, paced by energy and raw-materials companies. China Petroleum, also called Sinopec, retreated 2.6 per cent, pacing a 1.1 per cent loss for a gauge of energy shares.

H-shares retreat

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index declined 0.9 per cent as concern the nation’s economic slowdown is deepening overshadowed President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the US. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 per cent in thin turnover as technology companies advanced.

TPK Holding plunged 9.8 per cent for its sharpest loss in a month, after its stock rating was cut to neutral from buy at UBS AG. Taiwan’s Taiex Index fell 0.9 per cent.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index lost one per cent. Overseas investors have sold US$667 million (RM2.926 billion) of local shares this month, poised for their largest monthly withdrawal on record. India’s S&P BSE Sensex index lost 0.3 per cent before the expiry of monthly futures and options contracts today.

The baht fell 0.4 per cent against the US dollar, after earlier touching its weakest level since March 2009. Thailand’s SET Index declined 0.5 per cent, bound for a three-week low. Stock markets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were closed for holidays. — Bloomberg

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