Asian stocks fall on Chinese inflation data as analysts doubt near-term monetary easing

BANGKOK – Asian stock markets fell Monday as hopes dimmed for aggressive moves by China to stimulate its slowing economy.

China’s consumer price index for September rose 1.9 per cent from a year earlier, easing from August’s 2 per cent rise, but analysts said closer examination of the figures suggest China’s government and central bank will be cautious about doing more to boost growth in the world’s No. 2 economy.

Dariusz Kowalczyk at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said non-food inflation accelerated to a seven-month high of 1.7 per cent, an indication of underlying price pressure that “reduces the odds of further monetary easing.”

He said an interest rate cut by the central bank is unlikely although a reduction in the reserve ratio requirement — the ratio of cash that banks must keep on hand — might be possible later this year.

He said the producer prices index, which measures inflation at the wholesale level and fell 3.6 per cent from the year before, was another negative signal since it is indicative of a weak level of economic activity.

“A combination of growth softness and less room to ease policy stance is a negative and should weigh on sentiment today,” he said.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was nearly flat at 8,533.79. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.1 per cent to 21,113.37. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.3 per cent to 1,928.27. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.1 per cent to 4,482. Mainland Chinese shares also fell.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was down 74 cents to $91.14 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.2906 from $1.2958 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 78.43 yen from 78.38.