Property Shares Drag Asian Markets Lower

Asian markets had mixed results Wednesday. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index dipped 0.5% to 21,022 and in China the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2% to 2,666. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index gained 0.9% to end the day at 9,241.

The China Real Estate Association has made a plea to the government to refrain from implementing additional measures to cool the property market, reports Property Wire. The group says that the raft of restrictions that have been employed so far are causing a massive decrease in transactions with Chinese property prices rising at their slowest pace in six months and the value of sales falling 19.3% in July, as compared with the same month last year.

Most property stocks slid lower in Hong Kong, especially those with major projects on the mainland. China Overseas declined 2.1%, Sino Land dropped 1.9% and Hang Lung fell 0.6%. But some still think Asian property is a great bet. Daan Van Aert of Netherlands-based Algemene Pensioen Groep told Bloomberg that the group plans to increase investment in Asian real estate by €1 billion euros in the next five years. "When a country is growing and a middle class is being established, you'll see a huge number of people who need better quality, affordable housing," he told Bloomberg. Adding that the recent slowdown is "healthy because it gives more room for sustainable long-term growth."

Other Hong Kong property shares fared better with Henderson Land advancing 0.9% and Cheung Kong inching up 0.1% after buying two sites in a government land auction. The company paid more than expected for both sites, but said they laid out the extra cash because of the excellent views, which would be highly sought after once the buildings have been erected. By some estimates, the developer will have to price the property at around $2000 per square foot to make a profit, reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

In China, shares in real estate companies sank with Gemdale diving 2.3%, China Vanke tumbling 1.7% and Poly Real Estate falling 1%. Chinese airlines also closed sharply lower in Shanghai today with China Eastern Airlines plunging 2.4%, China Southern Airlines losing 1.7% and Air China dropping 1.6%.

Insurance company PICC Property and Casualty rallied 10% in Hong Kong after announcing that profits for the first half of the year rose to $390 million. Citic Pacific was also among the Hang Seng's top performers, gaining 4.2% after saying that profits for the first half nearly doubled thanks to the sale of several assets. The company now plans to focus on iron ore, steel and property, according to Bloomberg.

In Japan, investor confidence was on the rise sending shares higher despite an increase in the value of the yen. Pioneer, the audio and video equipment maker, surged 3.4%; Mitsubishi Corp., a trading company, was up 2.4% and Sony climbed 0.7% higher. Canon, the camera maker, rose 1%. Among Japanese carmakers, Honda soared 2.4%, Isuzu advanced 1.9% and Toyota added 0.8%. Japanese investors must be rooting for U.S. shoppers to return to electronics shops and car showrooms.