By Laura He, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japan markets rallied on upbeat corporate earnings on Thursday, while miners and financial stocks led Australia’s benchmark stock index lower.
Other major markets in the region were closed for public holidays, including Hong Kong, mainland China, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines.
In Japan, the Nikkei Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.39% ended up 1.3%, and the Topix index /zigman2/quotes/210598092/delayed JP:180460 -0.03% settled 1.7% higher. IT giant Fujitsu /zigman2/quotes/208459594/delayed JP:6702 -1.15% jumped 6.3%, after it swung back to profit for the fiscal year to March 2014. Nomura Holdings /zigman2/quotes/206251373/delayed JP:8604 -0.46% , Japan’s largest securities firm, also climbed 6.3%, as its earnings doubled to 213.6 billion yen ($2.1 billion) for the year ended March. Smaller rival Daiwa Securities Group /zigman2/quotes/201391978/delayed JP:8601 +0.34% gained 3.1%, after its net income more than doubled to 169.5 billion yen for last year, although its fourth-quarter profit declined for the first time in nine quarters.
Electronics giant Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -0.57% ended 1% higher. After the markets closed, the company said it expects a wider loss for the just-ended fiscal year as the cost of disposing its PC business weighed on the company as a whole.
Utilities also attracted much buyers’ interest. Hokkaido Electric Power Company /zigman2/quotes/209956657/delayed JP:9509 -0.39% and Kyushu Electric Power Company /zigman2/quotes/209592197/delayed JP:9508 +0.12% surged 13.1% and 9.1% respectively, after the two companies said they would seek financial support from the government. Tokyo Electric Power Company /zigman2/quotes/202771076/delayed JP:9501 -0.23% advanced 3.9%, as it returned to profit for the first time in four years. Shikoku Electric Power Company /zigman2/quotes/209920132/delayed JP:9507 +0.57% and Chubu Electric Power Company /zigman2/quotes/208115192/delayed JP:9502 -0.03% rose 4.8% and 3.1% each.
Meanwhile, the Japanese yen /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.1490% was flat against the dollar and traded at ¥102.21, compared with ¥102.25 in the prior session.
In Australia, banks and miners dragged the markets lower, with the S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.33% closing down 0.7%.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group /zigman2/quotes/205482049/delayed AU:ANZ +0.78% dropped 1.2%, despite posting a 15% rise in net income for the six months ending March 31. Meanwhile, National Australia Bank /zigman2/quotes/210431826/delayed AU:NAB +0.04% /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC +0.47% was down 1.7%, Westpac Banking Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC +0.47% was off 1.2%, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia /zigman2/quotes/200638713/delayed AU:CBA +1.08% moved lower by 0.3%.
Mining companies suffered a selloff as iron ore prices fell sharply. Fortescue Metals Group /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG -1.23% tumbled 4%, Alumina /zigman2/quotes/210515632/delayed AU:AWC +0.45% lost 2.2%, Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.46% gave up 1.5%, and BHP Billiton /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -0.78% pulled back 0.7%.
More must-reads from MarketWatch: