Asian stocks fell, heading for the largest monthly slide in eight months, after the U.S. Federal Reserve pressed on with cuts to U.S. economic stimulus and as a report showed China's manufacturing industry contracted. Japan's Nikkei 225 index plummeted 376.85 points, or 2.5%, to 15,007.06 Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 106.19 points, or 0.5%, to 22,035.42 Honda Motor Co., which gets 83% of its auto sales abroad, lost 2.5% as Japanese exporters retreated after the yen gained from the close of equity markets in Tokyo yesterday. Hitachi Metals Ltd. surged 5.1% in Tokyo , leading gains on the regional benchmark index, after profit at the steel manufacturer topped analyst estimates. The yen held at 102.47 to the dollar, stronger than the 103.29 level when Tokyo equity markets shut yesterday. The Nikkei 225 is on course for its biggest monthly rout since May 2012 . China Shipping Development Co. dropped 4.7% to HK$4.65 in Hong Kong after the crude oil and coal carrier predicted a full-year net loss. Treasury Wine Estates Ltd. slumped by a record 20% in Sydney as the world's second-largest publicly traded wine maker said earnings fell. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. sank 1.3% to A$5.23 . The iron-ore explorer reported output of the material for the second-quarter that missed analyst estimates Hong Kong and Singapore shut early for the Chinese New Year holidays. CHINA Shanghai's CSI 300 index fell 25.33 points, or 1.1%, to 2,202.45. The final reading on HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics Ltd.'s January purchasing managers' index for Chinese manufacturing was 49.5, the first contraction in six months. Readings below 50 indicate contraction. In other markets; Markets in Taiwan and Korea for shuttered for a holiday The Singapore Straits Times Index subtracted 20.71 points, or 0.7%, to 3,027.22 In New Zealand , the NZX 50 was negative 32.88 points, or 0.7%, to 4,849.84 In Australia , the S&P/ASX 200 shed 40.95 points, or 0.8%, to 5,188.06
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