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Market Update

Asian Markets End Lower; Earnings, Global Risks Weigh

Asian markets closed lower Tuesday amid disappointing earnings from Japanese firms and after China's Ministry of Industry and Information expressed concerns over the fate of the nation’s economy.

At close, the Nikkei was down 0.1%. The Shanghai Composite dropped 1.7%. The Hang Seng slipped 0.1%, while the Sensex was down 0.5%. The S&P/ASX All Ordinaries also gave up 0.5%.

Stocks in China fell after the ministry indicated industrial output may reduce this quarter amidst slowing global demand and a widening European debt crisis. Traders feared Europe, China's biggest export market, may curb imports in the wake of the looming debt crisis, further aggravating the country's economic slowdown.

Stocks on the move

In Tokyo, disappointing earnings continued to weigh, with Suzuki Motor down 1.8% after the automaker posted a 2.8% decline in quarterly operating profit.

But shares of Toyota Motor Corp. ended flat despite posting a higher-than-expected 51% rise in quarterly operating profit.

Camera maker Canon Inc. slipped 0.2% as the yen firmed against the euro. Europe accounts for 31% of the company's sales.

Telecommunications service provider, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Co. gained 0.1% after the company announced it will repurchase up to 220 billion yen or up to 44,000,000 shares of its common stock on Wednesday.

Shipping companies rose sharply with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines gaining nearly 2.2% and Nippon Yusen K.K. climbing 2.4%. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha added 1.3%.

Japan Tobacco surged 5.5% after the world's second-largest cigarette maker raised its full-year net profit outlook by 17% to $2.37 billion.

In Shanghai, shares of steel companies were lower after the nation's industry ministry indicated lower demand and higher costs would erode profits in 2012.  Jiangxi Copper dropped 1.6% while Baoshan Steel was down 1.8%.

Automaker SAIC Motor Corp. erased 0.1% after its January sales declined for the first time in six months.

In Hong Kong, Cosco Pacific, which operates ports in Greece, slipped 1.8%.

Property players were also trading lower with China Resources Land drifting 0.2% lower. Sun Hung Kai Properties gave up 2.2%.

In Mumbai, NCC slumped nearly 15% after the infrastructure development company reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 10.3 crore for the third quarter ended December.

India Infoline declined 8% as investors booked profits after the company posted a 62.2% increase in its consolidated net profits for the third quarter ended December.

Manappuram General Finance & Leasing sank 20% after the Reserve Bank of India debarred the company from taking public deposits.

Among gainers, RIL and ONGC gained around 1.5% each, while ICICI Bank and ITC added 1.3% each. BHEL erased 4.2% while Tata Steel ended 3.3% lower.

In Sydney, stocks declined after the Reserve Bank of Australia unexpectedly left its key cash rate unchanged at 4.25%.

Financial services provider Macquarie Group was down nearly 1% after the firm reported it expects a 25% fall in its full-year profits, and that it would buy back shares.

National Australia Bank slumped 4% despite reporting a 7.7% increase in first-quarter cash earnings to $1.4 billion. The bank said it would launch a strategic review of its U.K. division, which is facing difficult operating conditions.

Among other banking majors, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac both edged nearly 0.6% lower each, respectively.

Mining companies also lost ground with Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto both erasing around 1.9% each. Newcrest Mining gave up 1.1%. BHP Billiton was down 0.8%.  

Cochlear surged nearly 8% after reporting a lower-than-expected first-half loss of $21.87 million which the hearing implant maker attributed to a product recall. The company said it does not expect the mass recall of its faulty bionic ear devices to affect its second-half results.