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Asia: Stocks decline as Japanese shares slump amid economic data

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[SYDNEY] Asian stocks fell, ahead of Chinese data on inflation and factory prices, as Japanese shares retreated amid a slump in machine orders. Energy producers climbed as US oil topped US$40 a barrel.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.4 per cent to 125.83 as of 9:08 am in Tokyo. Global stocks fell last week amid concern over the potency of central bank stimulus efforts and a selloff in Japanese equities. Focus now turns to Monday's data from China and first-quarter earnings in the US.

"It appears to us that the flashy rally in risk assets seen in recent weeks is faltering," said Stewart Richardson, chief investment officer at RMG Wealth Management LLP in London.

"The bearish macro story that we have been discussing for a long time remains in place, and it appears that investors are losing their faith in central bank policies."

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Japan's Topix index declined one per cent after a report showed machine orders dropped in February for the first time in three months. The yen was little changed after climbing for six straight days.

The benchmark equities gauge is down 18 per cent in 2016, the steepest decline in global markets behind Italy. BlackRock Inc, the world's largest money manager, is among firms ending bullish calls on Japan equities.

South Korea's Kospi index slipped 0.1 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index added less than 0.1 per cent.

Futures on Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index were down 0.2 per cent and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index dropped 0.3 per cent. FTSE China A50 Index futures rose 0.1 per cent in most recent trading. China is due to report data on consumer and producer prices.

Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell less than 0.1 per cent. The underlying gauge ended Friday up 0.3 per cent. Energy producers and mining stocks led gains.


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