Most Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index paring its third straight monthly gain, as Japan’s industrial production missed estimates and U.S. growth unexpectedly stalled. Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (7012) jumped after raising its operating profit forecast.
Whitehaven Coal Ltd. (WHC), subject of an unsuccessful takeover proposal from struggling Australian mining magnate Nathan Tinkler last year, fell 5.5 percent after saying first-half earnings will drop on lower prices. Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co., a builder of power plants and residential buildings, slid 5.4 percent after its parent’s profit fell. Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. rose 7.2 percent. Datang International Power Generation Co. jumped 6.9 percent after saying its 2012 profit probably more than doubled.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 133.34 as of 7:54 p.m. in Tokyo, after falling as much as 0.4 percent and rising 0.2 percent. Five stocks dropped for every four that increases on the gauge, which is headed for a 3.1 percent gain this month, its third monthly advance, amid a rally in Japanese shares on optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new government will take steps to end deflation.
“Economic growth is not all smooth sailing,” said Jason Teh, who helps manage about $4 billion at Investors Mutual Ltd. in Sydney. “In the longer term it all really comes down to earnings growth.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark regional equities gauge, traded at 14.4 times average estimated earnings yesterday, compared with 13.6 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) and 12.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) climbed 0.2 percent, reversing earlier losses in the last 17 minutes of trading and capping its longest streak of monthly gains since August 2009.
The gauge yesterday closed above 11,000 for the first time since April 2010. The nation’s industrial production rose 2.5 percent in December from the previous month, missing the 4.1 percent median economists’ estimate.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index (AS51) declined 0.4 percent, with trading volume 24 percent above its 30-day average at the time of day, while South Korea’s Kospi Index (KOSPI) retreated 0.1 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index gained 0.2 percent after its economy expanded more than estimated in the fourth quarter.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index retreated 0.4 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.1 percent.
Whitehaven dropped 5.5 percent to A$3.28 in Sydney. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in the six months to Dec. 31 will be less than A$10 million ($10.4 million), the Sydney-based company said in a statement. It reported Ebitda of A$58 million in the same period last year.
Daewoo Engineering retreated 5.4 percent to 9,050 won in Seoul. Its parent yesterday said profit for 2012 dropped 30 percent to 159.4 billion won ($146 million).
Nintendo Co., the world’s largest maker of game consoles, sank 4.6 percent to 8,920 in Osaka after forecasting an operating loss on lower-than-expected sales of its Wii U. Delays in game development hurt Wii U console sales, President Satoru Iwata said.
Honda Motor Co. and Nomura Holdings Inc. were among more than 250 Japanese companies reporting earnings today.
Honda, which climbed 0.8 percent today, said after Tokyo trading ended that it is cutting its full-year profit forecast to 370 billion yen ($4.1 billion) from 375 billion yen.
Nomura, Japan’s biggest brokerage, said net income climbed 13 percent to 20.1 billion yen, missing the average 31 billion yen estimate of eight analysts surveyed. Nomura added 2.1 percent today, taking its advance in the last two months to 54 percent.
“With economic stimulus measures and a recovery in the U.S. economy, there are a lot of expectations about earnings for Japan going forward,” said Jun Nishizaki, chief portfolio manager at Nissay Asset Management Corp., which overseas about 34 billion yen ($374 million). “Profits are not that much higher this year than the last, but we’re expecting a 20 percent increase in profits in the next year.”
Of the 108 companies on the broader Topix Index that have reported quarterly earnings so far and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 57 percent have exceeded profit expectations. Some 52 percent missed sales projections.
Pharmaxis Ltd. tumbled 46 percent to 68 Australian cents after an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said its Bronchitol drug may be not be effective for cystic fibrosis patients. The FDA isn’t required to follow the panel’s recommendation.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The gauge yesterday retreated 0.4 percent from a five-year high after gross domestic product dropped at a 0.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter. The biggest plunge in defense spending in 40 years outweighed higher-than-expected gains in personal consumption and employment.
The Federal Reserve said yesterday it will keep purchasing securities at the rate of $85 billion a month as the economy paused because of temporary forces including bad weather.
Among stocks that rose, Kawasaki Heavy surged 7.2 percent to 283 yen in Tokyo. The company raised its operating profit forecast for the year ending March by 11 percent to 40 billion yen.
Datang International (991) gained 6.9 percent to HK$3.41 in Hong Kong after saying in a preliminary statement its profit for 2012 more than doubled from a year earlier. China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. (762), nation’s second-largest mobile-phone company, gained 1.6 percent to HK$12.46 in Hong Kong after saying 2012 profit probably rose more than 50 percent.
Nomura Research Institute Ltd. (4307), a Japanese provider of information-technology services, jumped 7.1 percent to 2,095 yen in Tokyo after its nine-month operating profit climbed.
Genting Singapore Plc (GENS) gained 5.8 percent to S$1.55 after an executive at rival Las Vegas Sands Corp. said a Sands resort in the city had a “damned good quarter.” Genting and Las Vegas Sands operate Singapore’s two casinos.
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