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Asian Shares Subdued by Earnings Caution

Reuters & CNBC.com
Tuesday, 23 Oct 2012 | 6:01 AM ET

Asian shares were lackluster on Tuesday with the corporate reporting season getting underway in the region, as investors stayed cautious after global shares faltered overnight on weak earning reports and outlook.

The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 Index, which measures markets across Asia, lost 0.3 percent.

Japan's Nikkei share average edged up to mark its seventh straight day of gains, its longest winning streak since July 2011, after an increasingly soft yen continued to fuel gains by exporters.

The Nikkei added 3.5 points to 9,014.25, while the broader Topix ost 0.6 percent to 749.37 as investors began to take profits after a steep rally.

Exporters rose as the yen hit a three-month low of 80.02 to the dollar on Tuesday. Sources said the Bank of Japan was leaning towards easing monetary policy again next week, with policymakers discussing steps in addition to a further increase in its asset-buying scheme.

Among exporters, industrial robot maker Fanuc gained 0.7 percent, Nikon rose 1.8 percent and Panasonic added 1.2 percent.

Kansai Electric Power sank 6.6 percent after Jiji news agency said the company would not pay its previously forecast annual dividend due to soaring cost of imported oil and gas as the majority of its nuclear reactors remain offline.

Chubu Electric Power shed 4 percent and Tohoku Electric Power lost 5.3 percent.

The outlook for Japanese corporate earnings remains weak. According to Thomson Reuters Datastream, Japanese companies' one-month earnings momentum — analysts' earnings upgrades minus downgrades as a total of estimates — has deteriorated further to -12.2 percent from -6.7 percent last month.

TDK lost 2.5 percent to 2,973 yen and Nidec fell 2 percent to 5,300 yen after U.S. rival Western Digital, the world's largest storage-drive maker, said slowing PC sales and falling IT spending would hurt current-quarter sales and eat into margins.

Fuji Heavy Industries climbed 3.4 percent to 740 yen, hitting a 20-month high after it lifted its operating profit forecast for the first half ended September by 34 percent to 43 billion yen, saying the made up of its auto sales had improved in the second quarter.

Kagome fell 2.6 percent to a three-month low, after the ketchup and tomato products maker cut its operating profit forecast for the year ending March 2013 to 9.4 billion yen ($118 million) from a previous forecast of 10 billion yen.

Australian shares eked out a tiny two-point gain but ended off session highs, as caution set in ahead of key inflation data and Chinese economic data due on Wednesday.

Australian inflation data on Wednesday could boost the chances of another interest rate cut, while investors will also be watching for HSBC's manufacturing report on China.

China is Australia's biggest export market and a prolonged slowdown in the world's second-largest economy could further dent prices for key resources such as iron ore and coal.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.05 percent at 4,543.1, after hitting a 15-month high last week above 4,580.

Mid-cap miners attracted interest on expectations of further consolidation in the sector.

A private equity firm founded by Chinese billionaire Yu Yong went hostile with its A$824 million ($850 million) takeover bid for Discovery Metals, after the copper explorer rebuffed a similar offer earlier this month. Discovery shares closed up 5 percent.

Among other small- and mid-size miners, Aquila Resources gained 1.85 percent, Northern Iron was up 2.5 percent and rare earths company Arafura jumped 7.9 percent.

Shares in Oz Minerals, the country's third-largest copper producer, rose 1.9 percent to A$8.45 after it reported September quarter production and said its Prominent Hill mine was on track to meet guidance.

Third-ranked iron ore miner Fortescue Metals gained 1.7 percent as iron ore prices improved, bringing its recovery over the past month to 14.7 percent.

Ten Network shares rose 1.7 percent after the network confirmed it has received a revised, lower offer for its outdoor advertising business from suitor CHAMP Private Equity.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index closed up 0.4 percent at 4,004.3.

South Korean shares extended losses as investors await third-quarter earnings from POSCO, the world's fourth-biggest steelmaker.

POSCO pared earlier losses to close down 2.1 percent after Standard & Poor's cut the steelmaker's credit ratings on Monday, citing weak demand.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 0.76 percent at 1,926.81 points, the third-straight decline.

Shipbuilders were leading the market's losses, falling 2.3 percent across the board. Shares in Hyundai Heavy Industries fell 3.3 percent after announcing it would conduct its first ever "voluntary retirement" program.

Meanwhile, POSCO extended losses, down 2.8 percent after Standard & Poor's cut the steelmaker's credit ratings, citing weak steel demand.

LG Display gained 2 percent, as investors were hopeful that Apple's aunch of a smaller iPad would mean big orders for the Apple supplier.

Hong Kong markets are closed Tuesday for a public holiday.

Mainland Chinese stock indexes closed down, led by financial, mining and food product manufacturing shares.

The CSI300 Index nded down 1.3 percent at 2,312.1 points. The Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.9 percent at 2,114.4 points.

Property stocks were in focus after bank lending to China's real estate sector rebounded sharply in the third quarter. Shanghai Shi Mao advanced 0.7 percent but Poly Real Estate lost 1.5 percent.

Shares in Air China were down 1 percent after the company had cancelled a plan for a private share placement, citing adverse market conditions. Trading in the company's shares had been suspended since Oct. 9 pending the announcement of the share sale.

China's Dongfeng Motor Group was up 7 percent after it announced it will make advanced dual-clutch transmissions with Germany's Getrag Group, a move that will develop Chinese expertise in the key auto part technology, Xinhua news service reported.

India's BSE index ost 0.4 percent, while the 50-share NSE index was down by 0.5 percent.

In Southeast Asia, both Singapore's Straits Times Index and Malaysia's KL Composite ended up 0.2 percent.