Asia stocks mostly down
(Baystreet Foreign Markets Wrap (Canada) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge)
Asian stocks fell Tuesday as investors locked in profits after strong recent gains and on caution ahead of the U.S. earnings season, with Japanese shares dropping as the yen strengthened.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index fell 90.95 points, or 0.9%, to 10,508.06
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index collapsed 218.56 points, or 0.9%, to 23,111.19
The decline came after a lower finish on Wall Street Monday, before the start of the fourth-quarter earnings season this week, with markets also watching political developments to resolve the debt ceiling issue.
Several exporters weakened in Tokyo as the dollar slipped to ¥87.44 from ¥87.83 in late North American trading on Monday and ¥88.13 on Friday.
The drop for Tokyo stocks came even as Kyodo News reported, citing unnamed sources close to the matter, that Japan's emergency fiscal stimulus package to boost its economy will be worth more than 20 trillion yen ($229 billion U.S.).
Furthermore, the yen advanced as ministers were quoted in other media reports as saying the government will make a 2% inflation target part of a new policy accord with the Bank of Japan, but won't set a deadline for reaching that target.
Mazda Motor Corp. fell 5%, Nissan Motor Co. dropped 1.1% and Casio Computer Co. lost 3.1%.
Consumer electronics firm Sharp Corp. managed to buck the lower trend, rebounding 3.9% from recent losses. The stock is still down more than 3% so far this month.
Also ranking among decliners, Aozora Bank Ltd. extended steep losses from the previous session when reports emerged that Cerberus Capital would sell most of its stake with a 4% decline.
In Hong Kong, meanwhile, losses were led by profit-taking in energy, insurance and property sectors after their strong performance recently.
Shares of China Resources Land Ltd. dropped 2.7%, oil major Cnooc Ltd. fell 1.8% and China Life Insurance Co. lost 3.3%.
Elsewhere in the region, South Korean heavyweight Samsung Electronics Inc. fell 1.1% after announcing fourth-quarter operating profit and sales guidance figures that broadly met analyst estimates.
Major miners declined in Sydney, with BHP Billiton Ltd. dropping 0.8% and Rio Tinto Ltd. shedding 1.2%.
But with Nymex light sweet crude futures staying over $93 U.S. a barrel in electronic trading, the energy sector provided support. Santos Ltd. climbed 0.8% and sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd. gained 1%.
Also, high-yielding defensive firms attracted buyers, with telecom giant Telstra Corp. edging up 0.2%.
Insurer QBE Insurance Group Ltd. lost 2.1%, as fires continued to threaten homes and properties in the southeastern parts of the country.
In other markets
The Shanghai CSI 300 docked 10.66 points, or 0.4%, to 2,525.33
In Singapore, the Straits Times Index fell 12.74 points, or 0.4%, to 3,205.52
Korea's Kospi Index subsided 13.31 points, or 0.7%, to 1,997.94
Taiwan's Taiex Index shed 33.43 points, or 0.4%, to 7,721.66
The NZX 50 gained 5.53 points, or 0.1%, to 4,090.37
Australia's ASX Index dipped 27.08 points, or 0.6%, to 4,609.25
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