Asian stocks fell, with the regional gauge heading for its first drop in four days, led by health-care stocks and information technology shares. Several markets across the region are shut today for a holiday.
Japan’s weakest export growth in a year spurred a wider-than-forecast trade deficit in March, adding to challenges for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in steering the economy through the aftermath of an April 1 sales-tax rise.
Asian stocks rose this week after U.S. data and earnings boosted optimism about the world’s biggest economy while further signs of slowdown in China stoked speculation the government will add stimulus to stabilize growth.
East African tea producers lobbied their governments to scrap value-added tax on domestic sales to help stimulate prices through increased consumption after higher output pushed auction rates to the lowest in 13 years.
Japan’s consumer confidence fell to the lowest level since August 2011, and the government cut its economic assessment for the first time in 17 months, as a sales- tax increase on April 1 sapped the public’s spending power.