HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian markets ended lower Tuesday as worries about the U.S. debt ceiling impasse led investors to take profit after a strong recent run.
Mainland Chinese stocks extended their rally on more buying amid hopes for greater foreign participation in the domestic markets, while Japanese shares advanced after the yen dropped to multiyear lows Monday, when local bourses were closed for a holiday.
Investors in the Japanese stock market returned from a three-day weekend to catch up with fresh multiyear lows for the yen, pushing the Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.38% up 0.7%. The index hit a level not seen since the end of April 2010 earlier in the session, though it moved off its highs, as the yen staged a modest rebound in midday action.
“The yen depreciation is good news for Japan [as it] can export more goods and services,” said Michael Heffernan at Lonsec stockbrokers.
Heffernan also cited a calming of European debt worries and an apparent rebound in China’s economy as broadly supportive of shares going forward. “On the balance sheet of global markets, the good is outweighing the bad by a long stretch,” he said.
Hyundai unveils concept luxury sedan
Designed to be ‘beautifully dangerous,’ Hyundai introduces the HCD-14 luxury concept sedan at the Detroit Auto Show.
The Shanghai Composite index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 +0.58% climbed 0.6%, extending Monday’s 3.1% surge, amid speculation that mainland Chinese stock markets will open further to foreign investors.
Still, other Asia markets ended lower after a choppy session.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.71% dropped 1.2% and Taiwan’s Taiex fell 0.8%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.41% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +1.08% slipped 0.1% each.
“The markets shot up a lot, so there is profit-taking,” said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities.
“We have seen foreign funds going into the Hong Kong market in the past two months, as global investors think that mainland China is turning around, and Hong Kong is one of the windows into the Chinese market,” Yip said.
The moves in Asia came after U.S. stocks ended Monday’s session on a muted note, weighed by losses for Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +3.09% with the Nasdaq /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.78% and S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.27% both closing lower. Read: Apple erases $17 billion from stock market.
Foreign-exchange moves helped drive the gains in Tokyo, although the dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.2993% fell back during the day, returning below the 89-yen level in the early afternoon.
Many Japanese exporters managed to advance regardless, with Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -0.14% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE +0.93% rising 1.2%, Olympus Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed JP:7733 -0.32% /zigman2/quotes/203009041/delayed OCPNF +0.16% leaping 7.7% and Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 +2.14% advancing 2.7%.
However, some Japanese tech manufacturers suffered after reports Monday that Apple had cut orders for iPhone 5 parts for the current quarter due to weaker-than-expected demand. Read: LCD-panel makers cut output for iPhone 5: report.
Among the Apple suppliers, Sharp Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 +5.55% /zigman2/quotes/207472799/delayed SHCAF +5.20% fell 2.7% and TDK Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208948266/delayed JP:6762 +0.40% /zigman2/quotes/203182885/delayed TTDKF +4.92% lost 2.5%.
Over in Seoul, LG Display Co. /zigman2/quotes/204226570/delayed KR:034220 +1.19% /zigman2/quotes/204466928/composite LPL +1.19% lost 3.5% and Apple’s handset rival Samsung Electronics Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 +0.23% /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF 0.00% fell 2.6%.
In Hong Kong, telecom firms were under pressure, with China Mobile Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 -1.80% down 1.4% and China Unicom Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205091392/delayed HK:762 -2.55% /zigman2/quotes/205476740/composite CHU +10.24% giving up 2.3%.
Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +0.14% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +1.56% slipped 0.1%, but came off early lows. The firm said Tuesday that its 2012 iron ore output rose 4% to a record 253 million metric tons, slightly exceeding its forecast.
Among gainers in Sydney, surfwear retailer Billabong International Ltd. jumped 16% to 98 Australian cents ($1.00) after VF Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206706147/composite VFC +0.43% and Altamont Capital Partners announced late Monday that they had submitted a buyout offer for the firm.
The bid values Billabong at 1.10 Australian dollars per share — about $1.16 a share or $556 million total in U.S. currency, matching a separate offer by private-equity firm Sycamore Partners and former director Paul Naude. Read: VF Corp. confirms $556 mln offer for Billabong.