Shares of major Asian petchem firms plunge on China growth concerns

12 March 2014 04:37  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Shares of major petrochemical firms in Asia plunged on Wednesday, tracking the slump seen in regional bourses, as worries over China’s economic growth weighed on investor sentiment.

Asian markets tracked overnight losses in the US, where Wall Street ended lower on Tuesday, as investors mulled over the developments in Ukraine as well as China’s latest exports data which raised fears of a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s exports dropped unexpectedly in February, falling sharply by 18.1% year on year, and imports rose by 10.1%, according to official data released over the weekend.

This resulted in a trade deficit of $23bn in February, compared to the surplus of $32bn in January.

“The deceleration in China’s exports had the market fretting about the health of the global economy,” said analysts at Singapore-based UOB Economic-Treasury Research in a report.

“Chinese data due ahead on Thursday, which include industrial production, retail sales, and fixed investment, are likely to [remain] uninspiring given the similar seasonal factors and a slower growth target set by the government,” it added.

At 11:30 Singapore time (03:30 GMT), the Japanese producer Mitsui Chemical was down by 2.18% while Mitsubishi Chemical and Asahi Kasei Corp slumped 3.15% and 2.83%, respectively. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down by 2.17% at 14,893.65.

The Bank of Japan on 11 March voted to maintain its policy to increase Japan’s monetary base by yen (Y) 60,000-70,000bn yearly and to keep its total target at Y270,000bn by the end of 2014.

“Exports have recently levelled off more or less,” which is in contrast to the upbeat tone the BoJ had in February, said UOB Economic-Treasury Research.

“Japan’s disappointing fourth-quarter GDP figures and the looming sales tax increase next month also raised concerns of a slowing Japanese recovery,” it added.

South Korea’s LG Chem was 1.02% lower while SK Innovation fell by 1.16%, as the Korea Stock Exchange KOSPI Index fell by 1.34% to 1,937.59.

In Hong Kong, state-controlled PetroChina fell by 2.41% while Sinopec Corp slumped by 3.49%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index was 1.33% weaker.

Thailand-based producer PTT Global Chemical fell by 1.02% and Malaysia’s Petronas Chemical Group was down by 1.19%.

By: Nurluqman Suratman

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