ASIA MARKETS: Asia Stocks Head For Downbeat End To Week
02/14/2013| 08:26pm US/Eastern
By Sarah Turner, MarketWatch
SYDNEY (MarketWatch) -- Asia stocks lost ground Friday, with the Japanese market dented by a stronger yen, and with earnings working to depress Australian shares.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average declined 0.6%, South Korea's Kospi traded fractionally lower, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.2%.
The action followed a lackluster U.S. lead, as Wall Street held in a tight range overnight, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) posted another marginal loss
While U.S. jobless claims surprised positively Thursday, international economic news remained bleak, with data showing gross domestic product in the 17-nation euro zone contracted by 0.6% during the fourth quarter.
A stronger yen weighed on Japanese shares, with the dollar slipping below the Yen93 level overnight, and BNP Paribas currency strategists noting the greenback's move to the bottom of its recent range ahead of a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies.
"Markets remain alert to G-7/G-20 headlines," the BNP Paribas said.
The delegates from the overlapping G-20 and Group of Seven blocs are due to meet later in the day in Russia, and may make some references to Japan's recent aggressive measures to weaken its currency.
A stronger yen tends to depress investor appetite for Japanese companies that make a significant portion of their profit overseas.
Currency-sensitive auto stocks were among the worst performers Friday in Tokyo, with Mazda Motor Corp. (>> Mazda Motor Corporation) down 4%, and Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (>> Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.) losing 3.3%.
Technology exporters' losses included a 2.3% drop for Casio Computer Co. (>> Casio Computer Co Ltd) and a 3% loss for Panasonic Corp. (>> Panasonic Corporation)
Shares of Sony Corp. (>> SONY CORPORATION) surrendered 3.2%, also weighed by a drop in U.S. January videogame-console and software sales, according to NPD Group. Sony is widely expected to unveil its new gaming console at an event Feb. 20.
In the metals sector, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. failed to get a bump from a solid profit in its first earnings as a merged company, as its shares lost 3.1%.
Other steel firms likewise dropped, with Kobe Steel Ltd. losing 4.7%, and Sumitomo Metal Metal Mining Co. (>> Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd.). down 3.7%. While a stronger yen cuts input prices for Japanese steel mills, they generally favor a weaker yen due to their strong export business.
Also trading lower after posting earnings, Trend Micro Inc. (>> Trend Micro Incorporated) lost 8.4%, while Kirin Holdings Co. (>> Kirin Holdings Company, Limited.) fell 6.8% after a recent run-up in the stock, even as the Japanese brewer posted a sharp gain in full-year profit.
In Australia, banking group Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (>> Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) declined 0.8% after the lender reported a 20% drop in first-quarter net profit amid soft economic conditions.
Miners were the worst performers by sector, with Rio Tinto Ltd. (>> Rio Tinto plc) weighing as it traded 2.6% lower after posting a fiscal-year loss late Thursday.
Rival BHP Billiton Ltd. (>> BHP Billiton Limited) fell 0.7%.
Steel giant Posco (>> POSCO) advanced in South Korea, however, while Samsung Electronics Inc. (>> Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.) inched up 0.1%.
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Stocks mentioned in the article : Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd.
, Rio Tinto plc
, SONY CORPORATION
, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
, Trend Micro Incorporated
, Mazda Motor Corporation
, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
, BHP Billiton Limited
, Casio Computer Co Ltd
, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.
, Kirin Holdings Company, Limited.
, Panasonic Corporation