Asian Stocks Little Changed Near Four-Month High Amid Earnings

Asian stocks were little changed, with the regional benchmark index near a four-month high, as U.S. earnings and durable-goods orders disappointed.

Honda Motor Co., which gets about 47 percent of sales from North America, dropped 1.6 percent in Tokyo. Komatsu Ltd., which makes construction and mining machinery, declined 2.3 percent after industry bellwether Caterpillar Inc.’s profit forecast missed estimates. Samsung Engineering Co. jumped 15 percent in Seoul after the builder of industrial facilities posted better-than-expected profit.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined less than 0.1 percent to 142.42 as of 6:51 p.m. in Hong Kong after closing yesterday at its highest since Sept. 25. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index sank 1.3 percent yesterday, while the Nasdaq 100 Index tumbled 2.6 percent for the biggest drop since April on earnings and as orders for business equipment unexpectedly fell for a fourth month in December.

“We may see some fairly substantial earnings downgrades in the U.S.,” Tim Schroeders, a portfolio manager who helps oversee $1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “That’s going to put a dampener on the U.S. market and spread globally. If weaker earnings does become a trend, we’ll be in for more volatility.”

China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.4 percent to a one-week low on concern inflows into equities will slow after some banks reduced leverage for trust products investing in shares.

Japan’s Topix index gained 0.3 percent, erasing losses of as much as 0.8 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.2 percent.

Singapore Dollar

Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.2 percent, paring gains of as much as 0.4 percent. The nation’s central bank unexpectedly eased monetary policy to shore up growth amid dwindling inflation, sending the currency to the weakest since 2010 against the U.S. dollar.

Thailand’s SET Index added 0.2 percent, trimming an advance of as much as 0.8 percent, after the nation’s central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged for a seventh straight meeting. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index dropped 0.4 percent. The Jakarta Composite Index fell 0.2 percent and Taiwan’s Taiex index lost 0.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 0.5 percent.

Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed even as Apple Inc. and Yahoo Inc. surged in post-market trading. Apple jumped as iPhone sales topped analysts’ estimates, while Yahoo rose as much as 10 percent after announcing a tax-free spinoff of its stake in Chinese e-retailing giant Alibaba Group Holding Inc.

“Despite some large Dow names releasing some ordinary earnings figures, Apple came out after the market closed and beat estimates,” Scott Schuberg, chief executive officer at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, said by e-mail. “Given Apple’s size, this may well lift U.S. equity futures and, as a result, brighten up an otherwise ordinary lead for Asian investors.”

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