Asian Stocks Struggle on Recovery Concerns

Asian stocks struggled on Friday, after fresh signs of consumer weakness and worries about stringent financial regulation sent Wall Street lower.

Japan's Nikkei averagefell 1.9 percent to mark its biggest weekly loss in a month, closing below a key support level in what market players said could signal still more falls to come.

Shares of Mizuho Financial touched a seven-month low after sources told Reuters the bank will decide on Friday to sell up to 6 billion new shares in a planned global offering, increasing the total number of shares outstanding by up to 38 percent.

The benchmark Nikkei shed 190.86 points to 9,737.48, while the broader Topix lost 1.4 percent to 867.30.

Shares of blue-chip exporters led the market lower. Canon lost 4.47 percent to 3,530 yen and Tokyo Electron sank 5.6 percent to 5,220 yen. HondaMotor declined 0.89 percent to 2,677 yen.

Bridgestone sharesadvanced 0.7 percent to 1,485 yen after Japan's largest tiremaker raised its first-half operating profit forecast by a quarter and made an annual profit projection
above analysts' estimates on improving sales.

Seoul Stocks Slip

Seoul shares retreated on the back of Wall Street's losses overnight with renewed concern about the global economy weighing on tech issues and steelmakers but life insurers such as Samsung Life advanced.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished down 0.58 percent at 1,729.84 points.

Shares of Hynix Semiconductor, the world's No. 2 memory chip maker, dropped 2.5 percent. Index heavweight Samsung Electronics lost 1.8 percent.

Retail issues also declined, with Lotte Shopping sliding 2.6 percent and Shinsegae down 1.6 percent.

Construction issues fell ahead of Financial Supervisory Service' assessment of builders later on Friday. Daewoo Engineering & Construction lost 1.82 percent.

Australian Stocks Hit 2-Week Low

Australian shares declined 1.5 percent to a two-week low, on concerns about the pace of the U.S. economic recovery and as investors turned edgy over the proposed mining tax.

Mining firms had received a fillip on Thursday from hopes that Australia's new Prime Minister Julia Gillard would offer a more conciliatory approach on the 40 percent super profits tax but there was little new information on Friday on negotiations.

The benchmark S&P ASX 200 index ended down 66 points to 4,413.0, after ending near flat on Thursday. For the week it lost 3.1 percent.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was 0.5 percent lower at 3,034.11.

Banks followed their U.S. counterparts lower on worries about increased financial regulation.

Caltex shares slid 6.8 percent after the refiner said late on Thursday its net profit for the first half of calendar 2010 will be about half that of the year-ago period, hurt by the strong Aussie dollar.

HK Stocks Under Pressure

Hong Kong stocks traded to the downside, as worries about stringent financial regulation in the United States dampened sentiment and weighed on banking shares such as HSBC Holdings.

The benchmark Hang Seng Indexfell 0.4 percent to 20,649.3 in morning trade.

HSBC fell 0.50 percent to HK$74.85. Banks in the United States could face tougher curbs on trading but would be able to hold limited hedge fund positions under a proposal unveiled by
Senate Democrats on Thursday.

China property stocks also declined. China Overseas Land lost 2.28 percent at HK$15.40, China Resources Land fell 1.8 percent at HK$15.32, hurt by a weakening apartment sales in mainland China recently.

China's key Shanghai Composite Index weakened 0.5 percent to 2,552.1 points.

Property Stocks Drag on Taiex

Taiwan stocks fell 1.5 percent, dampened by property and construction stocks after the island's central bank unexpectedly raised interest rates and also said it was strengthening oversight of the mortgage market.

The main TAIEX index closed the session at 7,474.7 points.

Weak U.S. data that pushed Wall Street lower also weighed on sentiment, though some financial firms gained on expected benefits from the rate hike, with the sector sub-index flat.

Among financial stocks to gain on the expected boost from a rate hike were credit card issuer Chinatrust, up 0.6 percent, and First Financial, up 3.2 percent.

Construction and property firms led the decliners, with the sub index down 3.5 percent, after the central bank raised rates and said it would step up oversight of mortgage lending as property prices in some areas were rising sharply.

Property builder Cathay fell 2.1 percent, Prince Housing fell 4.3 percent and Hung Poo Real Estate shed 4.6 percent.

PC maker Asustek surged for a second session, gaining 5.2 percent, after spinning off its Pegatron unit.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore's STI and Malaysia's KLCIwere rangebound.