Asian stock markets declined Friday as sentiment was weighed down by mixed U.S. economic data and weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings from Apple.
Japanese benchmark Nikkei declined 0.91 percent or 82.83 points to 8,972.37, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.77 percent or 167.38 points to 21,642.85 and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite plunged 1.56 percent or 30.04 points to 1,894.46 while Chinese Shanghai Composite slumped 1.66 percent or 34.87 points to 2,066.71 and India's BSE Sensex fell 0.41 percent.
Asian stocks mostly opened on a negative note after a series of mixed U.S. economic data and Apple quarterly earnings that fell short of expectations. Reports released Thursday showed a 9.9 percent jump in durable goods and a 23,000-fall in initial jobless claims and both beat consensus but the more important core durable goods orders and pending home sales data disappointed.
The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for the state unemployment benefits fell sharply by 23,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 369,000 in the week ending Oct. 20, slightly better than the economists' estimate of 370,000. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors U.S. Pending Home Sales Index for September rose only modestly in September after a sharp decline in the previous month. The pending home sales increased 0.3 percent in September from a month earlier but fell short of economists’ expectations of a 0.7 percent gain.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s durable goods orders, which measure the change in the total value of new orders for the long-lasting manufactured goods, rose 9.9 percent in September, the biggest gain since January 2010, after plunging 13.1 percent in August. But the core durable goods orders, excluding defense spending and aircraft orders, were unchanged last month after rising a scant 0.2 percent in August.
Meanwhile, weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings from Apple Inc also added to the downside. The iPhone maker reported the fourth quarter net profit of $8.2 billion or $8.67 per share, up from $6.62 billion or $7.05 per share in the same quarter last year but missed Reuters' estimate of $8.75 per share.
Japanese stocks fell, led by declines from technology and industrial companies’ shares. Profit warnings from Canon and other domestic companies offset growing expectations for easing from the Bank of Japan and a weaker yen.
"With the weekend ahead it may be difficult to move today. But expectations for the BOJ to ease are running very high. It's markedly different to previous months," Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities, told Reuters.
Fanuc Corp. declined 2.16 percent and Canon Inc. declined 2.68 percent after lowering its full year profit and sales forecast while Advantest Corp. surged 4.93 percent as its downward revision in guidance for this financial year fell within market expectations.
In Hong Kong, BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd. declined 1.84 percent and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. slumped 6.98 percent while Bank of China Ltd. gained 0.95 percent.
In Seoul, Kia Motors Corp. plunged 5.45 percent and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. fell 2.04 percent while LG Electronics Inc. fell 0.68 percent.