Asia stocks mixed after US earnings disappoint

BANGKOK -- Asian stock markets were mixed Friday as disappointing U.S. corporate earnings hurt sentiment and provided a reason to book profits on recent gains.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1 percent to 8,994.63. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.9 percent to 1,941.89. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 4,568.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2 percent to 21,556.39. Markets in mainland China, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and India were down.

"It is one of those situations where we've had such a big run this week, we are at a stage where investors would be nervous to add onto positions or get fresh entries," said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia.

Worse-than-expected U.S. earnings were a 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 also reported results that fell short of forecasts.

An unexpected jump in weekly U.S. jobless claims also hurt 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.

Investors are also looking for more progress from a European summit convened to hash out solutions to the region's debt crisis.

European Union leaders took a crucial step on the opening day of a meeting in Brussels on Thursday by agreeing to create a banking supervisor to oversee institutions in the 17 countries using the euro.

Among individual stocks, electronics maker NEC surged 8.9 percent in Tokyo after the Nikkei business daily reported that the company will likely report a sixfold increase in operating profit for the April-September period, beating 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 up 2 cents to $92.12 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 79.29 yen from 79.23 yen.


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