Asian Stocks
A Tokyo Stock Exchange employee looks up at a monitor displaying market indices at the bourse in Tokyo. Reuters

Most of the Asian markets declined Wednesday as sentiment deteriorated following the weak earnings reports and the downgrade on five of the Spanish regions by Moody’s.

Japanese benchmark Nikkei declined 0.67 percent or 59.95 points to 8,954.30, South Korea’s KOSPI Composite fell 0.67 percent or 12.85 points to 1,913.96 and Taiwan’s Taiex Index fell 0.31 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.31 percent or 66.23 points to 21,763.78 and Chinese Shanghai Composite ended flat. Markets in India are closed for holiday.

Markets opened on a negative note, following a slump on the Wall Street overnight as disappointing earnings and renewed concerns about Spain raised fears about the global economic slowdown. The Dow Jones Industrials Average suffered its worst single-day decline in four months as Dow components DuPont and United Technologies missed estimates, adding to a disappointing earnings season. The Dow industrials posted a decline of 200 points or more for the second time this week.

DuPont (NYSE:DD) stock plunged more than 9 percent after the company reported the third quarter earnings. Its third quarter net income plunged to $10 million or $0.01 per share from $452 million or $0.48 per share in the same period last year.

Adjusted net profit was $0.44 per share, down from $0.69 per share last year and missed analysts’ estimate of $0.47 per share. DuPont also lowered its full-year earnings guidance and said it planned to eliminate about 1,500 jobs as part of restructuring.

Of the 29 percent S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far in this earnings season, 57.2 percent have exceeded analysts' estimates for earnings, but only 37 percent have exceeded revenue forecasts, far short of the 62 percent average, according to Thomson Reuters’ data.

Spain’s borrowing costs rose Tuesday after Moody’s downgraded five of the country’s regions by one or two notches including economically important but deeply indebted Catalonia, citing their limited cash reserves and forthcoming bond repayments. The bank of Spain also said that the nation’s recession will worsen in the coming months.

“Weaker earnings from some of America’s biggest companies, along with a sense that Europe isn’t making good progress on the debt crisis, [have] shaken investor confidence. After the run-up in markets we’ve seen, technical indicators are pointing to some overheating,” Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager in Tokyo at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc, told Bloomberg.

However, the downward move was limited as a private sector version of the Chinese manufacturing PMI rose closer to expansionary territory. The HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a measure of the nation-wide manufacturing, gained to 49.1 in October from September’s final reading of 47.9, easing worries about a sharp growth slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

Japanese stocks fell, led by declines exporters, despite a weaker yen as weaker-than-expected U.S. corporate earnings weighed. Mazda Motor Corp. fell 2.94 percent and Panasonic Corp. declined 1.72 percent while Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. plunged 5.68 percent after lowering its first half net profit guidance.

In Hong Kong, Esprit Holdings Ltd. tumbled 9.49 percent and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. fell 1.11 percent while China Mobile Ltd. gained 2.22 percent.

In Seoul, POSCO fell 1.43 percent and Hyundai Motor Co plunged 2.24 percent while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. slipped 0.99 percent.