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Market Update

Asian Markets Take a Breather

Asian markets retreated Thursday with Japanese shares pulling back from four-year highs scaled in the previous session.

The Nikkei dropped 1.2% after surging 3.8% on Wednesday as the dollar reversed its strong gains against the Japanese currency and moved lower in Asian trading hours. The USD/JPY pair was trading 0.23% lower at 93.42 at 1:06 p.m. Tokyo time.

Among other indexes, the Shanghai Composite lost 1.3% as investors locked in profits ahead of the Chinese Lunar new year holiday. The Hang Seng was down 0.4%.

The Sensex edged down 0.1% but Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries managed to eke out a mild gain of 0.2%.

In economic news, official data released in Japan showed the country's core machinery orders fell less-than-expected in the previous month.

In Australia, unemployment rate remained steady at a seasonaly adjusted 5.4% in the previous month, as against expectations of a rise to 5.5%.

Stocks on the move

In Tokyo, currency-sensitive firms were under some pressure, but some earnings related news helped offset losses in some export-oriented firms.

Among the losers, Canon Inc. fell 3%, Komatsu Ltd. lost 2.2% while Advantest Corp. erased 2.8%.

On the earnings front, Nikon Corp. plunged more than 18% after the firm slashed its profit outlook owing to sluggish European demand and lower prices.

Tractor manufactor Kubota Corp. reversed nearly 4% after its quarterly results missed estimates.

But car manufacturer Mazda Motor zoomed ahead 10.6% after the company returned to profit in nine months and also raised its fiscal full-year outlook.

Sony Corp. rose over 3% ahead of its quarterly results later in the day. The company has reportedly signed an agreement with Juki Corp. to integrate their electronic-parts surface-mount-technology equipment business. Shares of Juki were up 5% in response.

In Hong Kong, property developers moved lower. Poly Property Group shed 2.7% while China Resources Land lost 3.5%.

Resources stocks also underwent sharp cuts. Aluminum Corp. of China erased 3.3% while Angang Steel shed 2.3%.

In the energy segment, China Shenhua Energy eased 2.5% and China Coal Energy lost 1.7%.

On the other side, Lenevo Group jumped 3.7% on news it will be included in the Hang Seng Index next month onwards. Lenevo Group will be replacing Aluminum Corp. of China on the benchmark index.

In Mumbai, markets opened weak tracking overseas cues but soon gained momentum. Among the gainers, HDFC led the field, up 1.4%, followed by Tata Motors and ICICI Bank, up around 0.5% to 1%.

On the downside, NTPC Ltd. lost 1.7% as the government initiated the sale of its 9.5% stake in the power utility to raise around $2.25 billion.

In Sydney, miners posted mild gains with index leaders BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto adding around 0.5% each even as Fortescue Metals Group rose 1.3%.

Financials and media firms were in the spotlight on heels of a few corporate earnings in these sectors. NAB rose 2% after posting a 4% increase in quarterly adjusted earnings.

ANZ gained 2.7% while Commonwealth Bank moved up 0.3%.

But News Corp. lost 3.3% despite a rise in earnings as the media giant slashed its fiscal year outlook. The news also weighed on others in the sector -- shares of Ten Network Holdings dropped nearly 6%.