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GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares, commodities slip, concern over earnings weighs

Chikako Mogi
Friday, 26 Oct 2012 | 5:56 AM ET

* MSCI Asia ex-Japan tumbles, Nikkei eases in choppy trade

* Korea leads drop despite record Q3 profit from Samsung Elec

* Yen pauses from selling as risk aversion helps

* Oil, copper, gold turn negative

* European shares likely to slump

TOKYO, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Asian shares and commodities slid on Friday while the yen steadied as investors shunned risk on concerns over corporate earnings, with the region's exporters struggling against shrinking global demand.

Oil retreated after rising on Thursday while London copper turned negative after earlier rising on short-covering, and gold, usually associated as a safe-haven, tracked a broad market decline led by a slump in Asian equities.

European shares were seen slipping as U.S. stock futures fell 0.8 percent to suggest a weak Wall Street open. Financial spreadbetters expect London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX to open down as much as 1.2 percent.

The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan tumbled 1.2 percent, and was set for a weekly drop of about 1.5 percent, which would be its largest weekly decline in two months.

China shares slumped 2 percent, underperforming Asian peers and dragging Hong Kong markets into the red after Chinese media reported domestic fund managers were not optimistic on the fourth quarter with funds reporting total losses of around 75 billion yuan ($12.02 billion) in the third quarter.

Hong Kong shares fell 1.2 percent and Shanghai shares slumped 1.8 percent.

Samsung Electronics reported record quarterly profits for a fourth straight quarter on Friday. And Bank of China Ltd posted its biggest quarterly profit gain in a year the day before, but they failed to remove concerns about the outlook. Other top Chinese banks report later on Friday.

South Korean shares slid 1.4 percent to their lowest since early September. Australian shares fell 0.8 percent, losing 2.1 percent for the week in its biggest drop since May.

``Traders are starting to get desperate for a feel good economic indicator from somewhere,'' said Tim Waterer, senior trader at CMC Markets. ``If one does not arrive soon the soft patch in markets witnessed this week could develop into a more pronounced downturn.''

Some markets in the region were closed on Friday, including the Philippines and Singapore, to mark a religious holiday.

Markets' next key focus is the advanced reading of U.S. third-quarter gross domestic product due later on Friday, with the annualised rate of growth in the world's largest economy seen at 1.9 percent, up from 1.3 percent in April-June.

Profit for Samsung Electronics, the world's largest electronics company, will likely decline into next year as TV markets stagnate and growth in the high-end smartphone market eases from the recent breakneck speed.

``Though Samsung's sales, particularly of its smartphones, are impressive, what shareholders would like to see is margins that are closer to those of Apple,'' said Lee Yong-jik, a fund manager at Pine Bridge Investments, who owns shares of the company.

Apple Inc, the most valuable public company in the United States, on Thursday posted quarterly earnings that fell short of expectations.

Bank of China posted solid results after cutting back on bad-loan provisions, prompting concerns that it may face a cash crunch if more borrowers default as the economy worsens.

EXPORT POWERS HIT

The deterioration in the euro zone economy, hit hard by the region's prolonged debt crisis, and shrinking global demand has hit Asian exporters.

South Korea's economy grew by 0.2 percent in the July-September period from the previous three-month period, the slowest quarterly growth since the fourth quarter of 2009 in Asia's fourth-largest economy. The median forecast called for a 0.1 percent expansion.

Japan, Asia's other export-reliant powerhouse hit by weak global demand, approved a 422.6 billion yen ($5.3 billion) economic stimulus package of subsidies and tax grants on Friday.

Japan's Nikkei average fell 1 percent as Asian shares slipped.

``The market is confused about how to react to the earnings cuts and to what extent they're priced in,'' said Yuuki Sakurai, CEO of Fukoku Capital Management.

The dollar eased 0.3 percent against the yen to 80.07 after hitting a fresh four-month high of 80.38 yen early in Asia on Friday on expectations the Bank of Japan will take aggressive easing measures at its policy meeting on Oct. 30.

The euro also fell 0.3 percent to 103.60 yen and the Australian dollar fell 0.7 percent to 82.63 yen.

Japan's core consumer prices fell for the fifth straight month in the year to September, keeping pressure on the BOJ to do more to achieve its inflation target.

The euro edged 0.1 percent higher to $1.2942, not far from a near two-week low around $1.2921 seen on Wednesday.

U.S. crude futures slid 1 percent to $85.17 a barrel and Brent dropped 0.9 percent to $107.46.

Asian credit markets were subdued, keeping the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index little changed from Thursday.

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