HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japanese and Chinese stocks ended lower Tuesday, unable to hang on to early gains, as euro-zone problems grabbed investor attention after Moody’s downgrade of France’s AAA rating and before a decision on financial aid for Greece.
South Korean and Australian shares, however, followed gains on Wall Street amid optimism the U.S. fiscal cliff will be averted.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.54% and South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.20% each climbed 0.6%, while Taiwan’s Taiex gained 0.2% after U.S. stocks scored their best session in more than two months. Read: U.S. stocks surge on hope for a debt deal.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index
retreated in afternoon trading to finish 0.2% lower, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index
fell 0.4% after a higher opening.
/zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HSI 29,730.63, +88.35, +0.30%
/zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed 180721 3,098.79, +6.13, +0.20%
/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA 30,930.52, +116.26, +0.38%
In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.45% slipped 0.1% to break out of a winning streak over the last four trading days on mild profit-taking.
The drop came in the wake of the Bank of Japan’s decision to stand pat on its monetary policy. The move was widely expected, but analysts also forecast fresh easing moves in the coming months amid intense political pressure on the central bank. Read more on the Bank of Japan’s policy decision.
“The pause will be short-lived. With an upcoming general election pushing political pressures through the roof and considerable uncertainty surrounding its baseline economic-recovery scenario, the [Bank of Japan] will likely move again in December,” said Izumi Devalier, an economist at HSBC.
“Further deterioration of the country’s economic outlook may also nudge the [Bank of Japan] towards more easing,” Devalier added.
Japan’s biggest names in the tech and auto sectors — which had fueled much of Tokyo’s recent advance — moved mostly lower during Tuesday’s morning session.
Among the major exporters losing ground, Advantest Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206869087/delayed JP:6857 +0.77% /zigman2/quotes/202479540/delayed ADTTF +1.36% fell 2.4%, Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +1.55% /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC +0.29% dropped 1%, and Mazda Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204777714/delayed JP:7261 0.00% /zigman2/quotes/206646681/delayed MZDAF +10.71% retreated 1.7%.
Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 +1.53% gave up 3.8%, also suffering from a target-price cut by Deutsche Bank.
Outside of the tech sector, Daiwa Securities Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201391978/delayed JP:8601 -1.43% /zigman2/quotes/206649614/delayed DSECF -3.04% dropped 1.4% after its shares hit a nine-month high Monday.
On the upside, Nippon Yusen K.K. /zigman2/quotes/203488100/delayed JP:9101 -2.31% /zigman2/quotes/201056741/delayed NYUKF +24.59% rose 0.6%, while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204152844/delayed JP:9104 -2.36% /zigman2/quotes/210406910/delayed MSLOF -3.86% jumped 3.6%, recovering further from a Moody’s Investors Service debt downgrade earlier in the month.
Strength in other markets came after Wall Street scored its best session in more than two months, helped by upbeat housing data and increasing confidence that a U.S. budget deal would be reached to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Read: U.S. stocks surge on hope for a debt deal.