Asian Stocks Fall First Time in Four Days; Japanese Shares Drop

Asian stocks dropped for the first time in four days as raw-material producers and health-care companies fell. Japanese shares slid as investors assessed the chances of government stimulus after revised data showed the economy grew more than estimated.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.3 percent to 141.70 as of 9:13 a.m. in Tokyo. The gauge closed on Wednesday at its highest level since July 24, 2015, as traders pared bets on a U.S. rate hike in September amid a string of unexpected weak data for August, including a slump in services, a contraction in manufacturing and a slowdown in hiring. Nintendo Co. surged 18 percent in Tokyo after saying it will release Super Mario Run in Apple Inc.s App Store in December, the first time the popular franchise is appearing on a smartphone.

The market is losing momentum, Bernard Aw, a strategist at IG Asia Pte in Singapore, said by phone. Investors are probably looking for fresh catalysts that may come in the form of additional stimulus from the European Central Bank or Bank of Japan.

Japans Topix index slipped 0.3 percent as the yen traded at 101.88 against the dollar. The nations economy grew 0.7 percent in the second quarter, revised figures by the Cabinet Office showed on Thursday. That compares to a previous outlook for a 0.2 percent increase.

BOJ Meeting

The upward growth revision is good news for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda as they seek to revive the economy and spur inflation. The report comes before this months closely watched Bank of Japan meeting, at which the board will conduct a comprehensive review of monetary policy and decide whether it should expand easing.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed. The underlying U.S. equity benchmark index closed flat on Wednesday after rising to within three points of an all-time high as the dollar snapped a two-day slide. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.2 percent to a fresh record.

The U.S. economy grew at a modest pace in July and August as a strong labor market failed to put much upward pressure on wages and prices, the Federal Reserves latest Beige Book showed Wednesday. The U.S. Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, which measures how data comes in relative to expectations, fell below zero for the first time since July, a sign that some figures have been worse than expected.

Emerging Markets

The numbers in the U.S. have been on the weaker side so theres no real urgency in raising rates, Jorge Mariscal, the New York-based chief investment officer for emerging markets at the wealth management unit of UBS Group AG, said on Bloomberg Radio. You have central banks promising more liquidity. Europe is probably going to stick with quantitative easing and Japan is under pressure to increase stimulus. There seems to be a fifth and sixth inning for the emerging market rally and we still have a few to go.

An MSCI Emerging Markets Index of 23 developing countries climbed on Thursday after closing at its highest level in more than a year on Wednesday as relatively loose monetary policy in major industrialized nations fueled a search for higher yields. South Koreas Kospi index added 0.2 percent. New Zealands S&P/NZX 50 Index and Australias S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.2 percent.

Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading.

Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index slipped 0.1 percent in their most recent trading, while those on the Hang Seng Index added 0.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index finished less than 0.1 percent higher on Wednesday, paring gains of as much as 0.5 percent. The measures 30-day volatility dropped to the least since August 2014 amid concern state-backed funds are smothering market moves.

The feeble moves in mainland equities come amid increasing speculation of state intervention, with the Communist Partys top decision-making body pledging to curb asset bubbles and the central bank saying it wants to reduce leverage in financial markets. State-backed funds were seen selling bank shares in mid-August as the Shanghai Composite surged to a seven-month high, while Huaxi Securities Co. said the government probably wants to keep the market above the 3,000 level.

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