HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japanese and South Korean shares lost ground Friday, as investors digested a raft of earnings reports and turned cautious ahead of a key U.S. employment report.
Chinese stocks managed to finish higher after a lower opening, with the property sector and some other laggards finding buyers ahead of the weekend.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.40% fell 0.5% to 8,831.93, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.59% shed 0.4% to 4,251.20 and South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.42% gave up 0.6% to 1,972.34.
China’s Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 -1.46% gained 0.8% to 2,330.40, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.31% rose 0.1% to 20,756.98 and Taiwan’s Taiex rose 0.3% to 7,674.99.
“We are seeing some short-term consolidation from recent strength,” said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. “Whether the market can extend the move higher is unclear. Markets have traded up without fundamental support, [although] there is some momentum because sentiment is relatively firm,” he said.
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Shares of Softbank Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 +4.52% /zigman2/quotes/202815238/composite SFTBF +0.09% fell 3.6% in Tokyo after its quarterly profit halved due to new competition in selling the Apple iPhone. Softbank previously enjoyed a monopoly. See report on Softbank earnings.
Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +3.27% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE +0.91% , which Thursday reported a staggering $2.1 billion loss for the last quarter, rallied 8.1%, recouping recent losses. Read more on Sony’s quarterly loss.
Sharp Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 -0.17% /zigman2/quotes/200401218/composite SHCAY -3.14% added 2.8% after posting weak quarterly results earlier in the week. Shares in Canon Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 -2.21% /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ -0.97% gained 2% after the firm announced a share buy-back.
Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. lost 2.2% after forecasting a fiscal-year loss late Thursday. Fellow steel producer JFE Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204336633/delayed JP:5411 -1.77% /zigman2/quotes/203557603/composite JFEEF -11.43% gave up 1.9% and Nippon Steel Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209782682/delayed JP:5401 -2.44% /zigman2/quotes/203679980/composite NISTF -3.87% shed 1.1%.
In Hong Kong, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. climbed 3.3% after announcing its cellular-telecom-services unit Hutchison 3G Austria will buy Orange Austria for about 1.3 billion euros ($1.71 billion). Read more about the Hutchison-Orange deal.
Chinese property shares advanced after Dow Jones Newswires reported land sales fell sharply in January as developers stopped purchases to preserve cash. In Hong Kong, Agile Property Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210448079/delayed HK:3383 -1.28% /zigman2/quotes/200754284/composite AGPYY +16.31% rose 1.8%, while China Resources Land Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/209191868/composite CRBJY +11.87% /zigman2/quotes/202417326/delayed HK:1109 +1.87% added 0.9%.
In Seoul, shipbuilders declined after disappointing earnings reports from Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. and Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Shares in Hyundai Heavy tumbled 7.7% while Samsung Heavy lost 3%.
Gold miners rose in Australia after Comex gold futures hit an 11-week high in New York trading. Newcrest Mining Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203840223/delayed AU:NCM +1.72% /zigman2/quotes/203286036/composite NCMGY +0.90% and Perseus Mining Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205179925/delayed AU:PRU +6.74% each traded 1% firmer.
Shares of Zijin Mining Group Co. /zigman2/quotes/204517000/delayed HK:2899 +5.79% /zigman2/quotes/209836076/composite ZIJMF +8.62% rose 1.6% in Hong Kong and 0.9% in Shanghai after the firm tipped a 20% increase in its fiscal year profit.