Asian stock markets were mixed Monday as concerns over weak corporate earnings and inconclusive Chinese economic data weighed on the sentiment.
Japanese benchmark Nikkei advanced 0.51 percent or 43.81 points to 8577.93 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.06 percent or 11.82 points to 21148.25 while Chinese Shanghai Composite fell 0.30 percent or 6.23 points to 2098.70, South Korea’s KOSPI Composite declined 0.40 percent and Indian benchmark BSE Sensex were trading flat.
China released a slew of better-than-expected economic reports over the weekend and on Monday. However, the improved Chinese indicators failed to cheer markets. Analysts at Credit Agricole said the data released over the weekend was inconclusive regarding the recent performance and outlook for the world’s largest emerging market, but overall slightly negative.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday showed that inflation in the world's second largest economy slowed in September, raising hopes that Beijing would now have more room for policy easing to stem a growth slowdown. Consumer prices index (CPI) rose 1.9 percent on annual basis in September compared to 2 percent increase in August. However, inflation was eased because of a sharp drop in food prices while core inflation accelerated to a seven-month high of 1.7 percent.
“This suggests some pick-up in underlying price pressures and reduces the odds of further monetary easing. At the same time, deep PPI disinflation highlights weak level of economic activity at the producer level. A combination of growth softness and less room to ease policy stance is a negative and should weigh on sentiment,” said a note from Credit Agricole.
Meanwhile, market participants turn their attention to corporate earnings as third quarter earnings season heads into full swing this week and will provide guidance on how much the global slowdown affects the U.S. companies. A slew of companies, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Intel Corp, IBM, Bank of America, American Express, Advanced Micro Devices, Microsoft Corp and Google Inc will report quarterly earnings which will weigh on the markets.
According to Thomson Reuters’ data, S&P 500 earnings for the third quarter are forecast to have fallen 3 percent from the year-earlier period, which would be the first decline in three years. With only 6 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported, 59 percent of companies have topped profit expectations -- significantly lower than the long-term average of 63 percent.
Japanese shares advanced led by gains from exporter companies. Toyota Motor Corp. gained 2.08 percent and Honda Motor Co Ltd. surged 3.89 percent while Renesas Electronics Corp. climbed 14.39 percent
In Hong Kong, Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd. fell 1.56 percent and Angang Steel Co plunged 2.26 percent while ZTE Corp. slumped 10 percent after forecasting that it will report a third-quarter loss of as much as 2 billion yuan.