MUMBAI (MarketWatch) — Asia stocks fell Friday, as revived concerns over Europe in the wake of a downgrade of Spanish debt offset the Bank of Japan’s announcement of fresh easing measures.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -2.13% finished 0.4% lower, after rising more than 1% following the central bank’s announcement.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.75% fell 0.3%.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -1.05% held onto to gains, adding 0.6% after record results from Samsung Electronics Co. /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF 0.00% .
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Tokyo-listed shares first shot higher after the Bank of Japan said it would expand its asset-purchase program by 5 trillion yen ($61.88 billion), while keeping interest rates on hold as expected.
The Japanese yen weakened after the decision, with the dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.6339% jumping well above the ¥81 level, before fading back to ¥80.85. The greenback had traded at ¥80.94 in late North American trading Thursday.
“The fact that we moved up so aggressively right after this tells you the market wasn’t really anticipating it,” said Ben Collett, head of Japanese equities at Louis Capital Markets in Hong Kong.
Still, “Japan’s been in a deflationary cycle for 20 years. … Getting out of that psychologically as an investor and believing that Japan is going to turn it around is difficult to do, so the market has been skittish,” Collett said.
Earlier in the day, investors had sifted through a batch of Japanese data released just before the market open, including a weaker-than-expected rise in industrial production but a surprise jump in retail sales, ahead of the central bank decision. Read more on Japanese economic data.
Despite a 10.3% overall gain for retail sales, Tokyo-listed retailers were mostly weaker, as much of the increase was reportedly driven by car sales. FamilyMart Co. /zigman2/quotes/207640090/delayed JP:8028 +1.97% /zigman2/quotes/206402323/delayed FYRTF 0.00% dropped 2.5% and J. Front Retailing Co. /zigman2/quotes/209287176/delayed JP:3086 -3.11% lost 2.6%.
Tokyo-listed Advantest Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206869087/delayed JP:6857 -2.64% /zigman2/quotes/202479540/delayed ADTTF -8.70% jumped 7.2% after managing a quarterly profit, despite also posting a fiscal-year loss, while Kyocera Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204880749/delayed JP:6971 -2.27% /zigman2/quotes/205094593/delayed KYOCF +0.75% rallied 4% despite a drop in profit, as the firm’s outlook tipped a recovery. See report on Advantest results.
Shares in Japanese mobile telecom Softbank Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 -3.25% /zigman2/quotes/207137761/delayed SFTBY -4.57% climbed 3.1% after announcing Thursday a 65% surge in fiscal-year profit and plans to hike dividends for the fiscal year. See report on Softbank results.
In Seoul, shares of Samsung Electronics Co. /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF 0.00% climbed 2.5% after the global tech major hit a fresh record first-quarter profit, boosted by strong sales of its mobile devices. See report on Samsung Electronics results.
Macquarie Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/206727308/delayed AU:MQG -1.32% /zigman2/quotes/209628452/delayed MQBKY -2.67% added 3% in Sydney after the investment bank’s 24% drop in annual profit broadly met expectations, and as it forecast a stronger outlook for 2013. See report on Macquarie Group results.
Hong Kong movers
Solid earnings reports helped support Hong Kong, with PetroChina Co. /zigman2/quotes/204979431/delayed HK:857 0.00% /zigman2/quotes/205108732/composite PTR -1.34% /zigman2/quotes/206980083/delayed CN:601857 -0.96% rising 3% and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. /zigman2/quotes/202085942/delayed HK:386 +1.23% /zigman2/quotes/202783176/composite SNP -0.37% , better known as Sinopec, edging up 0.1% after releasing results. (Read reports on PetroChina and Sinopec earnings.)
Shares of BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200479222/delayed HK:2388 +0.93% /zigman2/quotes/203632418/delayed BNKHF +4.40% rose 1.9% after releasing its first-quarter earnings results late Thursday.
Strategists at Barclays Capital said BOC Hong Kong remained their favorite local Hong Kong bank, though they added they were “still cautious on the outlook for the Hong Kong banking sector and believe the mild easing of system liquidity year-to-date is a temporary phenomenon.”
Still, Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 +1.61% /zigman2/quotes/200548463/delayed BACHF +3.48% /zigman2/quotes/209359942/delayed CN:601988 +0.56% lagged, shedding 1.5% after updating investors on its earnings.
Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205017351/delayed HK:2038 +0.83% /zigman2/quotes/207122890/delayed FXCNF -10.64% was a sharp underperformer, with shares plunging 15.8%, after it warned of wider losses next year.
China’s second-biggest brokerage by total assets, Haitong Securities Co. /zigman2/quotes/207313420/delayed HK:6837 +1.85% /zigman2/quotes/203443667/delayed CN:600837 -0.98% , made its Hong Kong trading debut Friday, dropping 1.3% after having raised $1.68 billion in what is now the world’s biggest initial public offering of 2012 so far. Read more on Haitong Securities trading debut.