Most stocks fell in Asia as Chinese shares slipped on speculation the country’s central bank may let the yuan strengthen to cool inflation. China’s currency touched a 17-year high against the dollar, gold climbed to a record and shares in Russia rose.
Declines by technology and materials stocks were offset by gains in automakers and industrial shares leaving the MSCI Asia Pacific Index unchanged at 138.82 even as six stocks retreated for every five that advanced. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.5 percent, while the yuan gained 0.2 percent to 6.5067. Gold increased to $1,512.47 an ounce, before trading at $1,506.85 at 5:25 p.m. in London. Russia’s Micex jumped 0.8 percent.
More rapid appreciation of the yuan may be a tool for curbing prices, Wang Yong, a professor at the People’s Bank of China’s training center in the city of Zhengzhou, wrote in a commentary published in today’s Securities Times newspaper. Stocks in Asia pared declines after Renesas Electronics Corp. (6723), a Japanese chipmaker, said it will restart operations at a plant damaged by the quake. Most markets in Europe and the Americas were closed today for Good Friday.