Asian shares mixed ahead of earnings season

April 26, 2011 - 0:0

HONG KONG (AFP) — Asian stocks were mixed in quiet trade on Monday as dealers locked in profits from recent gains while two of the region’s major markets were closed.

Tokyo’s Nikkei ended 0.11 percent, or 10.25 points, lower at 9,671.96 and Shanghai fell 1.51 percent, or 45.57 points, to 2,964.95.
Seoul rose 0.83 percent, or 18.18 points, to finish at 2,216.00.
Hong Kong, Sydney and New Zealand were shut for public holidays, while European and US markets were closed on Friday for the Easter break.
Japanese traders gave up earlier gains as they became nervous ahead of the reporting season this week, which will give the first clues to the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami on the economy.
Auto giants Toyota, Nissan and Honda all reported domestic production had slumped last month due to the quake, which led to power shortages and widespread factory closures.
In a double blow to the automakers Standard & Poor’s rating agency on Monday revised from “stable” to “negative” its outlook for three firms, citing the impact of the March 11 quake and tsunami.
It made the same revision for three major auto parts suppliers -- Aisin Seiki, Denso, and Toyota Industries -- citing production slowdowns and stoppages, electricity supply disruptions and lower consumer confidence.
Despite the Nikkei’s loss the market was given some support from a weaker yen after a report that the central bank will halve its projection for economic growth in the fiscal year to March 2012 because of last month’s twin disasters.
The Bank of Japan is expected to downgrade its outlook for the year from 1.6 percent to around 0.8 percent in light of the deadly disasters, the Nikkei daily said.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami battered the northeast coast of Japan and triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.
The region’s infrastructure, businesses and factories were destroyed, while many local residents were left without jobs, hammering output.
However the report said that the BoJ would also predict a rebound starting later this year, as factories begin running again, exports recover as supply chain disruptions are alleviated, and reconstruction demand starts picking up.
The report came as BoJ governor Masaaki Shirakawa joined private economists in saying he saw a contraction in the first half of 2011 due to the twin disasters.
The greenback rose against the Japanese unit, standing at 82.13 yen, from 81.88 yen Friday afternoon in Tokyo. The euro bought $1.4575 from $1.4571 and gained to 119.72 yen, compared with 119.30 yen.
“With such remarks, the BoJ might have tried to lay the foundation for a possible downward revision in its growth forecast,” said Hideki Hayashi, global economist at Mizuho Securities.
Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, said that March production in Japan plunged 62.7 percent year-on-year, while Nissan’s output fell 52.4 percent and Honda Motor output plunged 62.9 percent because of the quake.
Toyota shares ended 0.61 percent lower, Nissan dropped 1.81 percent and Honda gave up 1.27 percent.
Most markets finished on a high last week after better-than-expected earnings reports from US corporate giants such as Apple and IBM, which lifted hopes for the global economy.
Eyes will be on a policy meeting of the US Federal Reserve this week as well as the first live news conference by Fed chief Ben Bernanke.
New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, rose 36 cents to $112.65 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for June gained 24 cents to $124.23 in the afternoon.