By V. Phani Kumar, Leslie Shaffer and Philip Vahn
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Asian markets ended mostly lower Tuesday as technology shares fell broadly on caution ahead of Intel's earnings report. Aluminum-producer stocks also fell after Alcoa results fell a tad short of expectations. But Chinese banks paced an advance in Shanghai as concerns over credit tightening receded.
Most regional markets started the day on a weak note after Alcoa's lackluster report, although the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 11,000 for the first time since September 2008 on Monday. Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.51% futures were down nine points in screen trade.
"I won't be betting against the market, but will be extra careful and go with the safer companies, those backed by sound fundamentals and decent valuations," said DMG research head Terence Wong in Singapore.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Average slid 0.8% to 11,161.23, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was 0.7% lower and South Korea's Kospi ended flat.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index shed 0.2%, Taiwan's main index ended 1.1% lower and India's Sensex slipped 0.5% in afternoon trade. The Shanghai Composite was among the few gainers, rising 1% to 3,161.25 after a choppy session during which it flirted with losses.
Elsewhere in the region, Singapore's Straits Times Index fell 0.2% and Indonesia's JSX was roughly flat in afternoon trading. Earlier in the day, New Zealand's NZX 50 ended 0.1% lower while Philippine stocks gained 0.2%.
Financial markets in Thailand were shut for a public holiday.
After Monday's market close in the U.S., Alcoa reported a first-quarter loss, leading to a 0.6% fall in its shares in after-hours trade. Read MarketWatch's First Take on Alcoa.
Regional aluminum producers declined following the results, with Alcoa's joint-venture partner, Alumina /zigman2/quotes/210515632/delayed AU:AWC +1.06% , tumbling 5.6% in Sydney, weighed by the company's comment that while alumina prices were being driven higher by strong Chinese demand, costs were also on the rise. Shares of Aluminum Corp. of China /zigman2/quotes/208051344/composite ACH +1.58% /zigman2/quotes/202960704/delayed HK:2600 +0.63% lost 2.7% in Hong Kong and Nippon Light Metal dropped 0.8% in Tokyo, while Hindalco Industries /quotes/zigman/206298788/realtime HNDNF 0.00% shed 0.9% and Sterlite Industries /zigman2/quotes/205002590/composite SLT +2.07% slid 2.3% in Mumbai afternoon trade.
Regional technology plays were mostly lower. "Investors will likely remain on the sidelines before the release of Intel's earnings tonight, watching for proof that can justify rallies in various technology firms until late March," said Jung Seung-jae at Mirae Asset Securities in Seoul.
Samsung Electronics /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF 0.00% shed 0.2% in Seoul, Inotera Memories contracted 2.8% and Nanya Technology Corp. fell 2.9% in Taipei.
Bucking the trend, Japan's Sanyo Electric added 1.3% after the Nikkei reported that the group's operating profit was likely to rise 50% to upwards of 45 billion yen ($482.6 million) for the year ending March 2011 now that it can tap the sales networks of parent Panasonic and its group firms.
Banks led gains in Shanghai after data released by the central bank Monday showed that financial institutions on the mainland extended 510.7 billion yuan ($74.82 billion) worth of new local-currency loans in March, down from 700.1 billion yuan in February. Read full story.
"The lower loans data released . . . helped to ease concerns about further tightening measures for now," said Li Xianming from Ping An Securities.