By Ilya Garger
Asian-Pacific markets were mixed at the close Friday as weaker-than-expected Japanese GDP data nudged the Nikkei lower while property and mainland Chinese telecom shares helped support Hong Kong's Hang Seng.
The Nikkei 225 Average finished the day 0.42% lower to 15565.02. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index closed 0.16% higher at 17249.95. South Korea's Kospi Index dropped 0.94% to 1292.10 at the close, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.08% to finish at 4949.20. Taipei closed 0.11% lower at 6571.10, while the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended 0.01% lower at 1605.93.
The Japanese government said before markets opened that GDP grew 0.2% in the April through June period compared to the previous quarter. Economists had expected GDP to grow at about double that rate but were not troubled by the results, which showed domestic demand rising even as the export sector and government spending contributed less to the economy. The Bank of Japan's widely anticipated announcement that it would keep the benchmark unsecured overnight call rate at 0.25% helped keep markets stable. (See related article.)
Most exporters were lower, with Honda Motor /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 -2.98% down 1.5% and Hitachi /zigman2/quotes/203839937/delayed JP:6501 -1.24% down 0.6%. Telecoms advanced, with Japan's largest phone company, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone /zigman2/quotes/200718273/delayed JP:9432 -0.02% , up 1.2%. Rival KDDI /zigman2/quotes/204923990/delayed JP:9433 -0.40% was up 0.4%. Financial shares were also lower. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Japan's largest lender, shed as much as 1.9%.
Japanese domestic consumer-related shares were stronger, as GDP data showed a rise in private consumption. Kirin Brewery /zigman2/quotes/201605850/delayed JP:2503 -1.25% was up 0.1% and real-estate firm Mitsui Fudosan /zigman2/quotes/205394574/delayed JP:8801 -5.08% added 2.2%.
Japanese airlines were lower after Thursday's terror scare in London, with Japan Airlines down 1.4% and All Nippon Airways /zigman2/quotes/202790240/delayed JP:9202 -1.65% off by 1.6%.
In Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Airways /zigman2/quotes/203532437/delayed HK:293 -5.03% rose 1.9% on speculation it may gain passengers as people shy away from U.S. and European carriers. Earlier in the week, Cathay reported better-than-expected earnings on strong passenger numbers. (See related article.)
Consumer goods exporter Li & Fung led advancing Hang Seng Index components, gaining 4.7% after reporting stronger-than-expected earnings. State-owned fixed-line phone company China Netcom /zigman2/quotes/204678507/delayed HK:906 -0.96% jumped 0.9%. Hong Kong fixed-line market leader PCCW /zigman2/quotes/203638754/delayed HK:8 +0.46% increased 0.8%. Top-tier Hong Kong developer Sun Hung Kai Properties /zigman2/quotes/209086152/delayed HK:16 +0.05% was up 0.2%.
In South Korea, number-one auto maker Hyundai Motor lost 1.6% and leading exporter Samsung Electronics decreased 1.1%.
Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 lost ground as telecom giant Telstra /zigman2/quotes/201936124/delayed AU:TLS -0.28% fell a day after reporting disappointing full-year results. (See related article.)
Write to Ilya Garger at email@example.com