Most Asian stocks declined Thursday as the lack of explicit hints about further quantitative easing from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke disappointed investors.
Japanese stocks pared earlier gains and ended on a negative note as some exporters declined in the afternoon trade due to strengthening yen. The Japanese benchmark, Nikkei, declined 0.16 percent or 15.87 points to 9,707.37.
“Steelmakers were among the underperformers, succumbing to profit-taking after they had gained on recent weakness in the yen as well as on a report by Nikko SMBC, which downgraded the sector to neutral from bullish rating,” Reuters reported.
Kobe Steel Ltd. plunged 4.26 percent and JFE Holdings Inc declined 3.14 percent, while Sumitomo Metal Industries and Nippon Steel Corp. declined nearly 3 percent.
On Wednesday, U.S stock took U-turn to end with modest losses as the testimony from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke disappointed investors who had hoped for a strong signal that more stimulus was on the way.
Though Bernanke said the “the job market remains far from normal”, the fall in unemployment rate has been more rapid than expected, suggesting that the present improvement in the U.S. economy will reduce the necessity for any more monetary stimulus.
The ECB's second 3-year LTRO provided not much surprise to markets, with drawing demand of EUR 530 billion compared to expectations of around EUR 450-500bn.
Meanwhile, a slightly better-than-expected China manufacturing PMI at 51.0 in February provided another reason to believe in a soft – not hard – landing in China.
“However, the Chinese PMI also means that the PBOC may be careful when easing further monetary policy. As such, the data also contributed to cap the performance of equity markets,” said a note from Credit Agricole CIB Research.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 1.34 percent or 290.78 points to 21,389.30 and Chinese Shanghai Composite fell 0.1 percent or 2.37 points to 2,426.11.
China Resources Land Ltd. slumped 6.74 percent and China Overseas Land Invest plunged 5.54 percent, while Bank Of Communications Co Ltd. fell 2.81 percent.