Asia Markets

Asia markets tread water as investors digest regional earnings; ECB ahead

Key Points
  • Asian shares closed narrowly mixed
  • Investors digested regional earnings releases from SK Hynix, OCBC and ANZ
  • The Australian dollar steadied following inflation miss on Wednesday
  • Euro firmed ahead of the European Central Bank's meeting

Asian shares closed narrowly mixed in Thursday trade following the softer lead from Wall Street and as investors digested regional earnings releases. Notable names on the earnings calendar included SK Hynix, ANZ and OCBC.

The Nikkei 225 edged up 0.15 percent, or 32.16 points to close at 21,739.78. Financials and most automakers rose, and shares of messaging service Line closed up 16.73 percent after it reported earnings. The benchmark index had snapped its 16-day win streak on Wednesday.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi declined 0.48 percent to close at 2,480.63 as investors digested quarterly earnings reports from blue-chip names.

South Korea's SK Hynix announced Thursday that its third-quarter operating profit rose 415 percent compared to one year ago. Profit for the period came in at 3.7 trillion won ($3.3 billion) , a touch below the 3.8 trillion won projected in a Thomson Reuters StarMine SmartEstimate survey. The chipmaker's stock closed down 3.67 percent.

Meanwhile, shares of Hyundai Motor closed up 7.41 percent after the automaker turned in its third-quarter report card. While the company's profit tumbled 20 percent in the period, that metric came in a touch above estimates at 852 billion won ($758.21 million).

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 reversed early losses to close up 0.18 percent at 5,916.3. The heavily weighted financials sub-index erased early losses to close higher by 0.08 percent.

In Australia, ANZ said on Thursday its full-year net profit for the year ending Sept. 30, 2017, rose 12 percent to 6.41 billion Australian dollars ($4.94 billion), a touch below the A$6.87 billion forecast in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S survey. ANZ shares underperformed other banking stocks, tumbling by 1.21 percent by the end of the session.

Other market movers included the fall in Qantas shares after the airline said in its first-quarter update that conditions in the second-half of the year were expected to be tougher. Qantas stock fell 7 percent before paring some losses to close down 1.41 percent.

The was off 0.34 percent by 3:07 p.m. HK/SIN while mainland markets made moderate gains. The climbed 0.33 percent to close at 3,408.2449 and the Shenzhen Composite gained 0.249 percent to end at 2,030.3511.

Over in Singapore, OCBC said Thursday that third-quarter net profit grew 12 percent to S$1.06 billion. The Singapore bank also highlighted "continuing stress" in the oil and gas sector. OCBC shares were flat at 2:48 p.m. HK/SIN.

Markets in Thailand are closed on Thursday.

Ahead, global markets are focused on the conclusion of the European Central Bank's meeting on Thursday. Investors awaited details from the central bank regarding tapering in its asset buying program.

"Between the amount of bonds they plan to buy per month to the duration of the program and their forward guidance, there are no shortage of ways for Mario Draghi to placate the doves and the hawks," Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy for BK Asset Management, said in a note.

Ahead of the meeting, the euro edged up to trade at $1.1822 at 2:46 p.m. HK/SIN. The currency had fallen to its lowest levels in around two weeks earlier this week.

Also of note in markets was news about China's first dollar-denominated sovereign bond offering in more than a decade. A total of $2 billion in government debt will be issued in two tranches, Thomson Reuters' IFR reported.

In other corporate news, Japan's Asahi Group will be offloading soft drink arm LB, which was acquired more than ten years ago, Nikkei Asian Review reported. Asahi stock closed down 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar recouped some losses after tumbling when inflation missed expectations on Wednesday. The Aussie dollar traded at $0.7709 at 2:46 p.m. HK/SIN after falling as low as $0.7694 in the session. That compared to levels around the $0.78 handle seen at the beginning of this week.

The Canadian dollar steadied after falling overnight. The loonie last traded at $1.2792 to the dollar after hitting as low as $1.2809 in the session. That compared to levels around the $1.26 handle earlier this week.

The greenback, meanwhile, was mostly stable against a basket of currencies. The dollar index stood at 93.584 at 2:45 p.m. HK/SIN, after trading as high as 94.008 in the overnight session. Against the yen, the dollar edged down to 113.55.

In the U.S., stocks closed lower on Wednesday on disappointing earnings releases, with the Dow Jones industrial average recording its largest single-day fall since Sept. 5. The 30-stock index lost 122.30 points, or 0.48 percent, to close at 23,329.46.

Yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note stood at 2.43 percent at 2:57 p.m. HK/SIN after touching a seven-month high overnight following strong data releases stateside. New home sales jumped 18.9 percent in September while durable goods orders rose 2.2 percent.

"Softer earnings reports, concerns over the [next] Federal Reserve chair, the upcoming ECB meeting and renewed bickering in U.S. political circles raising concerns over the passage of tax reform were all raised as drivers," ANZ Research said in a morning note.