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Asian Stocks Decline on Bank Earnings Concern; Caltex Tumbles

Originally posted on Bloomberg

Asia stocks fell, led by banks and technology companies, on concern rising bad-loan costs will hurt bank earnings and as orders for semiconductor equipment slumped.

National Australia Bank Ltd., the nation’s biggest lender by assets, dropped 2.6 percent after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its recommendation on the stock. Samsung Electronics Co. declined 1.3 percent as North American semiconductor-equipment orders fell to their lowest level since 1991. Caltex Australia Ltd., the nation’s largest oil refiner, tumbled 9.4 percent after saying full-year profit plunged 95 percent.

“We’ll see more write-offs and bad debts as the recession deepens,” said Jason Teh, who helps manage $3.5 billion at Investors Mutual Ltd. in Sydney. “It’s still so uncertain when the cycle will turn.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6 percent to 77.23 as of 10:15 a.m. in Tokyo, with two stocks falling for each one that rose. The measure has slumped 14 percent this year, extending 2008’s record 43 percent tumble, as the credit crisis sent the world’s biggest economies into recession.

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