Asian stock markets declined Monday as sentiment was dampened after the Chinese government tightened measures to control rising property prices.
Chinese Shanghai Composite slumped 2.67 percent or 62.89 points to 2,296.61, Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged 1.53 percent or 350.81 points to 22,529.41 and India’s BSE Sensex declined 0.45 percent while Japan's benchmark Nikkei gained 0.55 percent or 64.10 points to 11,670.48 and South Korea's KOSPI Composite slipped 0.52 percent.
Investor sentiment was dampened after the Chinese government over the weekend introduced fresh measures to cool the property market, including higher down payments and interest rates for second-home buyers in cities that are seeing an unprecedented price rise. The latest measures also include a 20 percent capital gains tax on property transactions.
The news that China's non-manufacturing sector expanded at the slowest pace since September also added to the down trend. The country's PMI declined to 54.5 in February from 56.2 in the previous month. The index continues to remain in the area of expansion since the reading is above 50, but the fall in the reading would suggest that the recovery in the world's second-largest economy is moderating.
The data came just two days after an official report showed that Chinese manufacturing activity expanded in February but at a slower rate than in the previous month. Data released by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed that official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) declined to 50.1 in February from 50.4 in January and also fell short of the economists' estimate of 50.5.
“The PMI data were worse than expected and the latest move on the property sector deepens uncertainty about how funds would flow within the Chinese economy. I believe the economy remains on a recovery trend and bank loans were strong in January. But we have yet to see new projects take place and the effect of the latest regulation needs to be monitored,” Chiyuki Shiraiwa, economist at SMBC Nikko Securities, told Reuters.
Chinese Shanghai Composite slumped, led by declines in property developers shares. China Vanke Co. tumbled 9.97 percent and Poly Real Estate Group Co Ltd. slumped 9.98 percent.
In Hong Kong, China Resources Land Ltd. plunged 8.63 percent and China Overseas Land & Investment slipped 6.71 percent, while Sands China Ltd. declined 1.36 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei advanced, led by gains in exporter and property developers companies’ shares, on expectations that the yen could continue to remain weak. Sony Corp. surged 3.31 percent and Toyota Motors gained 0.5 percent, while Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd. surged 3.27 percent.
In Seoul, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. declined 0.26 percent and Kia Motor Corp gained 0.18 percent, while SK Hynix Inc. declined 1.32 percent.