Doubts about the pace of economic recovery hit Asian markets on Thursday, with Japanese stocks falling to a four-month low and the Australian dollar down for a third day as a December interest rate hike no longer looked like a sure thing.
After gains of nearly 70 percent in Asian equities so far this year, investors are likely prone to taking profits before year-end.
A six-month low in U.S. housing construction in October and news this week that Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group <8306.T>, Japan's largest bank, will have to raise $11 billion in new shares to meet stricter capital requirements have underscored how the climb back from the worst economic crisis in generations will be slow.
The fact that they (MUFJ) are doing this now suggests that company management doesn't believe the economy will improve, and this is hitting the confidence of individual investors, said Kenichi Hirano at Tachibana Securities in Tokyo.
* Japan's Nikkei share average <.N225> fell 1.3 percent to the lowest since July 21, underperforming Asia.
* The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was relatively unchanged, but still near a 15-month high reached on Tuesday.
* U.S. stocks futures were down 0.3 percent, indicating a lower open later in the day.
* Australian dollar down 0.3 percent to US$0.9260 after touching the highest since Aug 1, 2008 on Monday, above $0.9400. The swap market reflects a roughly 50/50 chance the Reserve Bank of Australia will raise rates for a third month in a row, which would be the first time they have done that in around 20 years.
* Spot gold down 0.2 percent to $1,142.80 an ounce after striking record high of $1,152.75 overnight.
* U.S. crude for December delivery was down 0.3 percent to $79.40 a barrel, after being unable to settle above $80 for a 10th consecutive session.
(Additional reporting by Elaine Lies in TOKYO; Editing by Kim Coghill)