HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Asia markets fell Wednesday, led by technology shares in the wake of disappointing earnings from Apple Inc., while property major Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. dropped in Hong Kong on news it was leading a group to acquire a U.K. gas distributor.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.43% and South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.33% each ended down 1.4%, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI +1.04% dropped 0.3%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.69% /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.69% shed 0.1%, paring a sharper loss earlier in the session, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.68% shed 0.2% and China’s Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 +1.02% slipped 0.5%.
Apple's earnings miss Wall Street targets
Apple earnings miss Wall Street estimates due to weaker-than-expected sales of the iPhone. MarketWatch's Dan Gallagher has the details. Photo: Getty Images.
Piper Jaffray’s principal sales trader Andrew Sullivan said the value of shares traded in Hong Kong was relatively thin at 44.7 billion Hong Kong dollars ($5.76 billion), indicating that many investors had pulled back from the market to steer clear of risk.
“People aren’t reacting to good news, they are selling into strength instead,” Sullivan said after the close of trading in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
European concerns combined with lackluster corporate earnings reports to drag U.S. stocks lower Tuesday.
Reports that Greece could need more debt restructuring, placing additional strain on the European Central Bank and other euro-zone members, inflamed existing worries about the fragility of the region’s economy. Read more on Tuesday's U.S. session.
“While there are still weeks to go before any official decision must be made regarding the Greek aid program, markets will likely assume the worst,” said Win Thin, Brown Brothers Harriman’s global head of emerging markets strategy.
“Uncertainty in this environment breeds more negativism,” Thin said.
In Tokyo, escalating European woes sent euro to decade-lows against the Japanese yen /zigman2/quotes/210561436/realtime/sampled JPYEUR -0.0610% /zigman2/quotes/210561436/realtime/sampled JPYEUR -0.0610% /zigman2/quotes/210561436/realtime/sampled JPYEUR -0.0610% weighing heavily on blue-chip exporters.
“One of the reasons why the result has had quite a big impact on Asia is because of the component supply chains, and a huge amount of Japanese and Korean companies are in the Apple supply chain.”
— Naomi Fink, Jeffries Japan
Sharp Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 +8.13% /zigman2/quotes/207472799/composite SHCAF -1.97% plunged 10%, Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 +0.19% dropped 5.5%, and Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 -6.31% /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC -1.58% retreated 2.3%.
Shares of Toshiba Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205628942/delayed JP:6502 -1.77% /zigman2/quotes/204149068/composite TOSYY -1.00% extended recent weakness with a 7.3% slump, after cutting production of NAND flash-memory chips.
Below-expectation earnings from global technology giant Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +3.33% /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +3.33% /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +3.33% prompted a sharp sell-off of electronics firms across Asia.
“One of the reasons why the result has had quite a big impact on Asia is because of the component supply chains, and a huge amount of Japanese and Korean companies are in the Apple supply chain,” Jefferies Japan’s Fink said.
“Apple is premier among smartphone makers, and yet even Apple is not immune to the global slowdown in demand,” she said.
Among Tokyo-listed technology majors losing ground, Advantest Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206869087/delayed JP:6857 -2.85% /zigman2/quotes/202479540/composite ADTTF +1.36% dropped 3.8%, Kyocera Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204880749/delayed JP:6971 +0.27% shed 2%, and NEC Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205173342/delayed JP:6701 0.00% gave up 2%.
/zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed 005930 58,000.00, +1,100, +1.93%
In Seoul, LG Display Co. /zigman2/quotes/204466928/composite LPL +1.50% tumbled 4.8%, while Posco fell 2.5% after Moody’s announced it was putting the steel maker on review for a possible downgrade.
Property names were weak in Hong Kong, as Sino Land Co. /zigman2/quotes/206858840/composite SNLAY +1.65% /zigman2/quotes/202960683/delayed HK:83 -1.78% lost 1.7% and Agile Property Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210448079/delayed HK:3383 +0.40% /zigman2/quotes/210448079/delayed HK:3383 +0.40% sank 4.9%.
Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/208405501/delayed HK:1 -0.68% dropped 0.9% following news the property major is leading a consortium to buy Wales and West Utilities Ltd. and its parent for $1 billion. Read more on Cheung Kong's U.K. gas buy-out.
Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +3.61% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -1.03% fell 1.5%, and energy firm Santos Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/207349564/delayed AU:STO +3.80% dropped 0.2%.
Shares of Macquarie Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/206727308/delayed AU:MQG +0.39% /zigman2/quotes/209628452/composite MQBKY +0.09% surrendered 1.8% although the investment bank said it expects improved financial results in the 2013 fiscal year.