HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian markets ended lower Thursday amid some gloom over earnings reports from Apple Inc. and Hyundai Motor Co., although Japanese shares found fresh impetus from a weaker yen.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.11% and China’s Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 +1.39% lost 0.8% each, Taiwan’s Taiex declined 0.6% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.35% slipped 0.2%.
On the upside, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.45% rose 1.3%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.55% gained 0.5%, completing a seven-day winning streak to end at its highest level since May 2011.
Most Asia markets are trading around multi-year highs and, according to Perpetual Investments investment strategy chief Matthew Sherwood, were “probably due for a bout of profit-taking before too long.”
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“The rise in global stock prices is getting thinner and showing signs of fatigue and being over-bought,” he said.
Some investors took their cues from a sharp fall in shares of investor favorite Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.54% in U.S. after-hours trade Wednesday. The firm posted almost flat fiscal first-quarter earnings, weaker-than-expected revenue and a disappointing forecast. Read: Apple shares tumble on results, forecast.
“With Apple’s worse-than-expected results, it would not be surprising if we see some consolidation in risk appetite today,” said Crédit Agricole strategist Gary Yau.
Some Asia-based companies in Apple’s supply chain felt the heat from the results.
In Taipei, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. /zigman2/quotes/207256514/delayed TW:2317 -0.43% /zigman2/quotes/205520950/delayed HNHPF -0.95% , which assembles iPhones, fell 2.9%; South Korean Apple supplier LG Display Co. /zigman2/quotes/204226570/delayed KR:034220 -0.24% /zigman2/quotes/204466928/composite LPL +1.79% dropped 1.2% in Seoul, while Apple handset rival Samsung Electronics Co. /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 +0.11% /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF 0.00% , which has also supplies some components for Apple products, lost 1.4%.
China data strong
Meanwhile, a preliminary survey from HSBC out Thursday showed that business conditions for Chinese manufacturers improved to a 24-month high this month.
The results represented the fifth straight month of improvement for the data series, “heralding a good start to the new year,” said chief China economist Hongbin Qu. “Despite the still-tepid external demand, the domestic-driven restocking process is likely to add steam to China’s ongoing recovery in the coming months,” he added. Read: China manufacturing improves: HSBC initial data.
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Australian mining firms — many of which count China as their most important customer — came off early lows or turned positive after the data, with BHP Billiton Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP +1.14% /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP +1.18% advancing 0.3%.
Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203840223/delayed AU:NCM +2.20% /zigman2/quotes/206026738/delayed NCMGF +0.30% improved by 1.8%, swinging from a 1.7% loss earlier in the session after announcing a drop in second-quarter gold output. Read: Newcrest tips gold output at low end of forecast.
Linc Energy Ltd. surged 23.6% in Sydney afternoon trading after it released two estimates of un-risked prospective resource reserves in the Arckaringa Basin in South Australia, which the firm said “confirm the significant potential of shale oil.”