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Asia: Stocks slip from one-year high as Japan shares drop on yen

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[SINGAPORE] Asian stocks retreated from an almost one-year high as Japanese shares dropped after the yen rebounded and as commodity companies led losses across the region.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.2 per cent to 138.35 as of 9:02 am in Tokyo after closing Tuesday at the highest since Aug 11. Material and health-care shares fell the most on the regional benchmark gauge. Japan's Topix index lost 0.5 per cent, with exporters helping send the measure lower as the yen held a 0.6 per cent gain against the US dollar.

"It's going to be quite tough for Japan with the yen strengthening," Nicholas Teo, a strategist at KGI Fraser Securities in Singapore, said by phone.

"Japan has tried a lot of things to stimulate growth."

Market voices on:

Wednesday's decline in Asian stocks comes after the Asian benchmark gauge climbed about 23 per cent from a February low, shrugging off the effects of Britain's vote to leave the European Union as central banks unleash further monetary easing while data spurs confidence in the world's largest economy.

Still, a resumed decline in oil is weighing on investor optimism, and both Chinese and Japanese stocks have slumped this year even as the regional measure recovers.

South Korea's Kospi Index decreased 0.2 per cent on Wednesday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.1 per cent, as did New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index.

China Gains

Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index rose 0.2 per cent in most recent trading, while those on the Hang Seng Index climbed 0.5 per cent. The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.7 per cent on Tuesday to its highest close since July 26, led by consumer and industrial companies, amid signs of stabilisation in the world's second-largest economy.

China's producer-price index fell 1.7 per cent in July from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said Tuesday, the smallest decline in almost two years, while passenger-vehicle sales accelerated the most in 17 months. Data in coming days are projected to confirm the stabilisation in growth achieved in the first half of this year continued into July.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index slipped 0.1 per cent. The US equity benchmark index added less than 0.1 per cent on Tuesday, hovering near a record.