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Market Update

Asia Ends Little Changed; Nikkei Drops 1.2%

Asian stocks kept bobbing near the flat-line Friday but Japanese firms pushed deeper into the negative zone as the yen grew stronger ahead of the G-20 meeting.

At close, the Nikkei was down 1.2% while the Sensex and the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries slipped 0.1%. The Hang Seng managed to eke out a slim 0.1% gain.

Markets in mainland China remained closed for public holidays.

Trading started on a low key this morning after yesterday’ downbeat economic data from the euro-zone dented investor confidence. Overnight cues from Wall Street were also not very encouraging. Stocks in the U.S. ended near the flat-line in the wake of some corporate news and the dismal European data.

In currencies, the yen was in focus even as the Group of Twenty members geared up for a meeting due to begin later today in Moscow. Traders were expecting delegates to comment on Japan's recent measures to weaken its currency.

The yen was trading 0.3% higher against the dollar at 92.56 during late Asian afternoon hours.

Stocks on the move

In Tokyo, currency-sensitive firms were the worst hit, as a stronger yen tends to weaken earnigns outlook of export-focussed firms.

Sharp Corp. declined 4%, Toshiba Corp. lost 2.7% and Nintendo Co. erased 2.1%.

Financials underwent deep cuts too. Mizuho Financial Group tumbled over 5.5%, Daiwa Securites lost 2.5% while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial lost around 3%.

In earnings related news, Trend Micro reported a 23% slide in net income. Shares of the antivirus software maker were down 6.1% in response.

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. retreated 2% despite posting a quarterly profit as the steel giant issued a disappointing earnings forecast for the fiscal year.

Likewise, Kirin Holdings Co. fell 5% inspite of higher full-year profit as the company said it expected pre-tax profit to decline 5%.

In Hong Kong, gains in some metal players were offset by losses in financials and property developers.

On the gainers side, Angang Steel rose 1% and Aluminum Corp. of China gained 0.6%. Some property players were also on the upside. Poly Property Group edged up 0.5% and China Overseas Land & Investment gained 1.6%.

But others moved lower -- Sino Land Co. lost around 1% while Sun Hung Kai Properties erased 0.4%.

In the financials segment, HSBC Holdings eased 0.1% and ICBC slipped 0.4%.

In Mumbai, earnings were in focus even as markets tracked their global counterparts lower.

Tata Motors pared early losses to end 2.5% higher after posting 52% decline in quarterly profits.

Suzlon Energy plunged around 9% after the turbine manufacturer's third-quarterly figures disappointed.

However, SBI moved up around a percent after the country's largest lender reported a 4% rise in net profit.

In Sydney, NAB edged up 0.6%, Westpac gained 1.4% but ANZ fell 2.6% after reporting a 20% drop in fourth quarter profits.

Miners dragged the resource-heavy benchmark index lower. Rio Tinto dropped 2.7% after reporting its biggest loss in 15 years. Close-rival BHP Billiton slipped 0.8% too.