Asian stocks slid for a second day Wednesday while the U.S. dollar climbed, with investors fleeing to the sidelines to await companies' business outlooks as what is expected to be a grim results season begins.
Shares of banks, automakers and technology companies were the main targets of selling, after they led a sharp rally in the last month on the back of budding optimism that policymaker stimulus efforts would eventually filter down to the global economy.
The earnings season kicked off with Alcoa , which reported a second consecutive quarterly loss on falling demand and sharply lower prices. Tech companies are under pressure after big-cap tech companies, including Apple, fell and the semiconductor index lost 3.9 percent.
Some Asian companies were expected to fare better this year than many of their counterparts in other regions. For example, U.S. earnings this year were forecast to shrink 4 percent versus 1 percent in Hong Kong and 10 percent growth in South Korea, according to global estimates tracker IBES. Still, the overarching trend of downward earnings revisions was still firmly in place.
Investors are seeking cover in the greenback and yen until some corporate earnings visibility returns. The euro fell against the dollar and yen , while the dollar rose against the Japanese currency . Oil prices fell sharply to trade at the $48 a barrel level.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Average finished down 2.7 percent, with Kyocera losing 4.4 percent and other tech firms down after losses among their U.S. peers as worries about earnings gave investors an excuse to take profits. Trading firms fell after oil prices slipped, while shares in companies with predictions of poor earnings such as Kobe Steel lost ground as well.
Seoul shares closed nearly 3 percent lower, taking a breather after six consecutive positive
sessions as investors grew more wary ahead of the results season, with technology issues such as Samsung Electronics and banks leading losses.
Australian stocks ended 2.3 percent lower, with banks leading the decline, after a shaky start to the U.S. earnings season turned the focus back onto a cloudy profit outlook for Australian companies. But Asciano Group, which has put itself up for sale, gained 7.3 percent on hopes of strong bidding for the debt-laden ports operator and its assets when a deadline for submitting indicative offers closes early next week.
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Hong Kong shares shed 3 percent as worries about battered corporate bottom lines took the spotlight. Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing slid 5.7 percent, retreating from its recent strong surge as turnover on the exchange slowed. Esprit sank 5.9 percent after the world's No.6 fashion brand announced it was replacing its long-time chief executive. Esprit, which has seen a spate of high-profile exits in the last year, said on Tuesday Heinz Krogner would step down as group CEO to make way for Ronald Van der Vis, who will take over on or before Nov 1. Krogner, largely credited as the chief architect of the retailer, will stay on as chairman.
Singapore's Straits Times Index was down 1.2 percent. Oil rig builders such as Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine,both down over 1 percent, slid as crude oil futures fell declined
on a reported big build in U.S. crude supplies.
China's Shanghai Composite Index sagged 3.8 percent to a one-week low, led by financial and non-ferrous metal shares as worries about first-quarter earnings and sluggish overseas markets weighed on sentiment. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and CITIC Securities both sank. Non-ferrous metal and coal shares were hit by profit-taking, with Jiangxi Copper sliding.