Asian markets fell Thursday, even as the International Monetary Fund declared, "Asia is rebounding fast from the depths of the global crisis," in its Regional and Economic Outlook report released today. China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.3 percent to close at 2,960, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 2.3 percent, ending the day at 21,265 and in Japan the Nikkei Index shed 1.8 percent, closing at 9,891.
The report warns that Asia will, "Need to manage a balancing act," by continuing the economic stimulus that has supported the recovery for just long enough that the economies become self-sustaining without triggering inflation. The report also emphasizes the link between American consumption and Asia's growth, cautioning that a slowdown in U.S. buying would still have an enormous impact on Asia. And it seems it is that out-sized consumption that has left Asia positioned so strongly: according to the report, "Asia has boomed as America's consumption outpaced its income."
And today, Chinese car company, Geely Holding Group Co.(GELYF) moved one step closer to what may become the first Chinese purchase of a major American carmaker as it became the "preferred bidder" for Volvo, currently owned by Ford Motor Co. (F), Bloomberg reports, with its bid of $2 billion for the Swedish brand. Hong Kong-listed shares in Geely climbed 2.1 percent. However, another Chinese company, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. may make its purchase first; it is currently negotiating to buy General Motor's Hummer brand.
In Hong Kong, the specter of a decline in personal loans due to tightened regulations sent Bank of Communications Ltd. (BKFCF), shares tumbling 5.4 percent. The bank posted only modest profits, disappointing investors expectations. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (IDBCY) slid 2.7 percent. Behemoth Oil producer PetroChina Co. (PTR) also reported lower than expected profits, dropping 4 percent.
Banking stocks also declined In China, as investors predicted that newly enacted personal lending regulations will dampen the number of approved loans. Under the new rules, The Business Times reports that real estate and auto loans of 300,000 yuan ($43,930) and more will no longer be paid to the borrower, but will be transferred directly to the borrower's counterparty in an effort to stem speculation and ensure that the cash enters the real economy. Chinese listed shares of Bank of Communications Co. Ltd. (BKFCF) slumped 3.2 percent, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (IDBCY) fell 2.2 percent and Bank of China Ltd. (BACHY) lost 1.7 percent. Developers were also affected by the new rules, with Poly Real Estate Group Co. plunging 3.8 percent and China Vanke Co. (CVKEF) dropping 3.8 percent.
In Tokyo, NEC Electronics Corp. (NELTY) plunged 8.3 percent and memory chip tester Advantest Corp. (ATE) slumped 6.6 percent after both companies predicted even deeper losses, making those "green shoots" of recovery, discussed so brightly in the IMF's report, look a little brown.