Asian stocks ended the week little changed, as investors weighed optimism about corporate earnings against concern the US Federal Reserve may start paring stimulus and as the greenback gained against Asian currencies.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dipped less than 0.1 percent to 141.24 this week amid the busiest part of the earnings season for shares on the measure. The Fed maintained its stimulus plan while publishing a policy statement that economists at Citigroup Inc and Barclays PLC said opens the possibility of reduced bond purchases as soon as next month. The Asia Dollar Index fell 0.4 percent as the rupiah, yuan, ringgit and rupee all retreated from a week earlier.
“It’s becoming more and more obvious which companies are strong, and which are weak,” said Seiichiro Iwamoto, who helps oversee the equivalent of US$33 billion at Mizuho Asset Management Co. “We usually see cyclical weakness for the global economy from around now through February, so I think we’re seeing the best for corporate earnings being reported now.”
Japan’s TOPIX added 0.4 percent this week. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 2.4 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite climbed 0.8 percent as a report showed China’s manufacturing exceeded estimates. South Korea’s KOSPI also advanced 0.3 percent.
However, Taiwan’s TAIEX bucked the trend, with the index closing the week down 0.5 percent. The local bourse started the week strong, surging past the 8,400-point mark on Monday, before selling on the last two sessions amid concerns over corporate earnings drove it lower to 8,388.18 on Friday.
Disappointment over touchpanel supplier TPK Holding Co’s (宸鴻) third-quarter results led a wave of selling in tech stocks, which spread to old economy and financial stocks, dealers said.
“TPK’s third-quarter results disappointed the market, and its gloomy assessment for the fourth quarter also prompted investors to dump the stock,” Concord Securities (康和證券) analyst Kerry Huang said.
Singapore’s Straits Times Index also slid 0.1 percent for the week.
More than 300 companies on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index reported earnings this week. Of those announcing quarterly results this season and for which Bloomberg compiles estimates, half posted profit that beat expectations, while 53 percent exceeded sales estimates, the data show.
Panasonic jumped 13 percent to ￥1,046 in Tokyo, its highest since April 2011, after doubling its net income forecast to ￥100 billion (US$1 billion). Sales will rise to ￥7.4 trillion, the company projected.
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group advanced 3.3 percent to A$33.72 in Sydney and touched a record on Thursday after saying cash profit climbed to A$3.3 billion (US$3.2 billion) in the six months ended Sept. 30 from A$2.9 billion a year earlier.
Still, earnings at some companies disappointed investors. Sony Corp plunged 9.9 percent to ￥1,668 after unexpectedly lowering its full-year profit forecast by 40 percent, on stalling demand for TVs and digital cameras and box office flops.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 2.7 percent last month for a second monthly increase. That pushed its price-earnings ratio to 13.6 times estimated earnings on Friday from 12.7 at the end of August, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with multiples of 15.9 for the S&P 500 and 14.9 for the STOXX Europe 600.