* MSCI Asia ex-Japan index off 1.3 pct, hovers near 3-wk
* Yen's rally hurts exporters, Nikkei at over one-month
By Umesh Desai
HONG KONG, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Asian stocks fell for the
third straight day on Thursday on rising doubts about global
economic growth, while the dollar steadied after scoring its
biggest gain in nearly two years as investors cut exposure to
High yielding currencies such as the Australian and New
Zealand dollars and commodity prices also slid following news
of a surprisingly large U.S. trade deficit and a dowgrade of
Britain's growth forecast by the Bank of England.
"Globally, there's a growing sense that the economy is
slowing, with a number of economic indicators that appear to
show we have entered a period of adjustment," said Kenichi
Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities.
The U.S. trade gap widened 18.8 percent in June, suggesting
its second-quarter economic growth was weaker than previously
thought. The report came days after the U.S. central bank
issued a gloomier outlook for the economy and followed a spate
of data from China confirming its rapid imports and factory
output growth was slowing.
The trade data clobbered the three major U.S. indexes,
which logged their worst percentage drops in nearly a month as
investors fled to safer assets.
Weaker-than-expected revenues from bellwether Cisco Systems
Inc after the U.S. closing bell added to the gloom, weighing on
tech shares in Asia.
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific ex-Japan stocks fell 1.2
percent, led by resources and technology shares It is at its
lowest since July 23 and has slid back into negative territory
for the year to date.
Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar steadied against a basket of
other major currencies after rising nearly 2 percent at one
point overnight to 82.533, well above its 200-day moving
But it continued to hover near a 15-year low against the
yen, dipping 0.2 percent from late U.S. trade to 85.16 yen
Overnight, the dollar hit a 15-year low of 84.72 yen on
electronic trading platform EBS.
The yen's gains and a weakening outlook for global demand
continued to pummel shares of Japanese exporters, with the
Nikkei average sliding 2 percent to its lowest levels in over a
Sony Corp fell 3 percent and chip-tester maker Advantest
Corp dripped 2.9 percent.
Many Japanese exporters had set their currency rate
assumptions at around 90 yen per dollar for the financial year
to next March.
The yen has gained nearly 9 percent against the dollar so
far this year as investors looked to lower-risk assets, even
though Japan's economy appears far more frail than that of the
RISKY ASSETS RETREAT
The Australian dollar, which is highly influenced by global
growth expectations, struck a two-week low of $0.8932 and was
down as much as 2.2 percent at one stage for its biggest daily
fall in six weeks. The New Zealand dollar was down about 1
percent at $0.7119, a three-week low.
Adding to the Aussie's woes was data which showed July
unemployment rose more than expected as more people looked for
work, which lessens the risk of wage pressures building and
adds to the case against a further rise in itnerest rates any
London Brent crude futures fell $1 to $76.64 a barrel on
worries that global demand was stagnating.
Gold regained strength after falling the previous day as
investors sold bullion to cover losses in equities, but a
firmer dollar was likely to cap gains.
Spot gold rose $2.20 to $1,199.20 an ounce, still hovering
below the closely-watched 50-day moving average.
(Additional reporting by Elaine Lies in TOKYO)
(Editing by Kim Coghill)