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Asia stocks fall on US earnings disappointment

PAMELA SAMPSON, AP Business Writer
Thursday, 18 Oct 2012 | 11:32 PM ET

BANGKOK -- Most Asian stock markets fell Friday following disappointing U.S. corporate earnings and uncertain progress from a European summit convened to hash out solutions to the region's debt crisis.

European Union leaders opened a two-day meeting in Brussels on Thursday and took a critical step by agreeing to create a banking supervisor to oversee institutions in the 17 countries using the euro.

But analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said negotiations are expected to be difficult during the summit's second day after reports emerged "about potential legal issues" concerning the draft proposal for the banking supervisor.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.1 percent to 8,970.56. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.9 percent to 1,942.47 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.1 percent to 4,554.50. Hong Kong's Hang Seng bucked the trend, rising 0.1 percent to 21,545.65.

An unexpected jump in weekly U.S. jobless claims also hurt investor sentiment. The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months after falling sharply the previous week.

Worse-than-expected U.S. earnings were another negative for Asian markets.

Microsoft said net income fell a worse-than-expected 22 percent to $4.47 billion in the fiscal first quarter, which ended Sept. 30. Microsoft shares fell in after-hours trading.

Shares of Internet search trailblazer Google were pummeled after third quarter earnings were released three hours too early by mistake. The results alarmed investors because the company's earnings and revenue fell well below analyst projections. Google's stock price dropped 8 percent, causing $20 billion in shareholder wealth to evaporate.

BB&T bank, Philip Morris International and Boston Scientific all fell after reporting results that fell short of forecasts.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell less than 0.1 percent to 13,548.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.2 percent to 1,457.34. The Nasdaq composite index slid 1 percent to 3,072.87.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was down 4 cents to $92.06 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 2 cents to finish at $92.10 a barrel on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3070 from $1.3061 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 79.33 yen from 79.23 yen.

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Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson

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