Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Stocks Close Mixed on Renewed Credit Fears

Asian stocks mixed Tuesday as fresh fears about the outlook for the U.S. economy offset healthy profits and orders at firms in the region, while the yen firmed as investors trimmed exposure to riskier assets.

Exporters and U.S.-linked firms were among the leading decliners after U.S. data showed existing-home sales fell during July, while inventories of unsold property climbed and prices dropped. This is its highest level in more than 15 years in July, adding to concerns about the housing market and consumer spending. The blue-chip Dow shed 0.4%, while the Nasdaq fell 0.6%.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average closed almost unchanged in thin trade as investors watchful of currency moves sold Toyota Motor and other exporters on a stronger yen, and banks and brokerage firms fell after their U.S. peers slipped the previous session. But the firmer yen supported Nippon Paper Group and
others that have been under pressure for higher imported material costs. Nippon Yusen and two other major shipping stocks sailed higher after Standard & Poor's raised its long-term
corporate and senior unsecured debt ratings on them.

South Korea's KOSPI rose, almost 1% higher, as shipbuilders such as Hyundai Heavy rallied following a raft of new orders in the sector, while steel makers such as POSCO gained on continued expectations for higher demand. But chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics dropped following a Citigroup ratings downgrade, while other exporters fell after U.S. housing data raised worries about consumer spending in South Korea's second-biggest overseas market after China.

Australian shares ended lower as fresh worries about the U.S. economy hit U.S.-exposed firms such as Brambles, overshadowing upbeat earnings from firms like Foster's Group. Financial firms such as Macquarie Bank fell after Goldman Sachs slashed its earnings forecasts on several U.S. investment banks, saying August was one of the worst operating environments for investment banks it had seen in years .

Singapore's Straits Times Index closed lower with shares of DBS Group, Southeast Asia's largest lender, down nearly 2% after the bank said it will provide liquidity to an asset-backed commercial paper because investors withdrew support due to volatile credit markets.

Hong Kong blue chips fell and China plays edged lower in volatile trade, pulling back from record highs as investors cashed in on recent gainers including China Construction Bank But shares in Lenovo, the world's third largest PC maker, slid more than 2% after news that U.S. rival Gateway will try to block the Chinese firm's effort to buy European-focused Packard Bell.

China's Shanghai Composite Index closed higher by 0.9%, having weaved in and out of positive territory as institutional investors diverted money to Hong Kong, and bargain hunters bought on dips. Legal flows of investments in Hong Kong by Chinese individuals have not yet started, but Chinese institutions were buying Hong Kong-listed H shares in anticipation.