Asia zigzags after Apple, dataBaystreet.ca
Most Asian markets ended lower Thursday amid some gloom over earnings reports from Apple Inc. and Hyundai Motor Co., although Japanese shares found fresh impetus from a weaker yen.In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index recovered 133.38 points, or 1.3%, to 10,620.87In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index docked 36.20 points, or 0.2%, to 23,598.90Some investors took their cues from a sharp fall in shares of investor favorite Apple in U.S. after-hours trade Wednesday. The firm posted almost flat fiscal first-quarter earnings, weaker-than-expected revenue and a disappointing forecast.Some Asia-based companies in Apple's supply chain felt the heat from the results.In Taipei, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which assembles iPhones, fell 2.9%; South Korean Apple supplier LG Display Co. dropped 1.2% in Seoul, while Apple handset rival Samsung Electronics Co., which has also supplies some components for Apple products, lost 1.4%.Australian mining firms many of which count China as their most important customer came off early lows or turned positive after the data, with BHP Billiton Ltd. advancing 0.3%.Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd. improved by 1.8%, swinging from a 1.7% loss earlier in the session after announcing a drop in second-quarter gold output.Linc Energy Ltd. surged 23.6% in Sydney afternoon trading after it released two estimates of un-risked prospective resource reserves in the Arckaringa Basin in South Australia, which the firm said "confirm the significant potential of shale oil."In Hong Kong, Chalco lost 1.8%, while among energy names, Cnooc Ltd. fell 2% and China Coal Energy Co. declined 2.1%.Japanese machinery firms that supply to China advanced, with Komatsu Ltd. up 2.2%, and Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. improving by 1.9%.A drop in the yen gave Japanese exporters a tailwind in the afternoon, with Honda Motor Co. up 2% and Toyota Motor Corp. rising 2.2%, after the dollar advanced to 89.25, up from 88.61 late Wednesday.The yen lost ground after reported comments by Vice Finance Minister Takehiko Nakao that Tokyo is closely watching the currency's moves.Dow Jones Newswires quoted Nakao as saying in an interview that Japan "will take appropriate action, if necessary" after gains for the yen following disappointment over the Bank of Japan's latest easing moves.The recent drop in the yen has prompted some share price weakness for Korean exporters on concerns that their competitive position has deteriorated against Japanese rivals.Auto maker Hyundai Motor Co. tumbled 4.6% after reporting a 5.5% drop in fourth-quarter net profit, and missing analyst expectations. Affiliate Kia Motors Corp. fell 3.5%.Figures out earlier Thursday showed South Korea's gross domestic product grew 0.4% in the final quarter of 2012, compared to the previous quarter. The pace of growth just missed economist expectations for a rise of 0.5%.CHINAMeanwhile, a preliminary survey from HSBC out Thursday showed that business conditions for Chinese manufacturers improved to a 24-month high this month.The Shanghai CSI 300 slipped 24.70 points, or 1%, to 2,582.75The results represented the fifth straight month of improvement for the data series, heralding a good start to the new year, said an economist with the bank.Mainland Chinese metal producers turned back from early gains to trade lower, with Jiangxi Copper Co. down 2.2% and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. also known as Chalco declining 1% in Shanghai; in Shenzhen, Angang Steel Co. fell 0.7%.In other marketsIn Singapore, the Straits Times Index added 17.16 points, or 0.5%, to 3,248.39Korea's Kospi Index doffed 15.93 points, or 0.8%, to 1,964.48Taiwan's Taiex Index slipped 48.19 points, or 0.6%, to 7,695.99The NZX 50 gained 2.19 points to 4,189.91Australia's ASX Index took on 22.40 points, or 0.5%, to 4,810.22, completing a seven-day winning streak to end at its highest level since May 2011.