Asian Markets Down on Grim Corporate News

HONG KONG -- Most Asian stock markets sank Thursday, with Japan's benchmark down over 1 percent, as more grim corporate news undermined optimism that China's stimulus measures will help its economy weather the global slowdown.

An early rally was snuffed out in the afternoon by the drumbeat of ugly results from major companies. China's Lenovo Group, the world's fourth-largest computer manufacturer, announced its first quarterly loss in nearly three years and said its chief executive, William J. Amelio, had resigned.

The downbeat earnings reports seemed to sap early enthusiasm over figures about Chinese manufacturing and lending that suggested the world's third-largest economy was faring better than expected despite slumping demand for its exports.

"Governments are coming out with stimulus measures but you can't make the economy and corporate earnings turn around in such a short time," said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. "The global economy is still in the downturn, so we're going to have more bad times."

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average slipped 89.29 points, or 1.1 percent, to 7,949.65, South Korea's Kospi slid 1.5 percent to 1,177.88 and China's Shanghai index, up more than 1 percent earlier in the day, lost 0.9 percent to 2,088.32.

Markets in Australia, India and Taiwan also retreated.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was up about 1 percent at 13,202.79, but well off its highs. Shares of Lenovo slid 0.7 percent.

The move downward tracked U.S. markets, where another round of bleak earnings from leading companies such as Kraft Foods, Walt Disney and Time Warner sent stocks lower.

The Dow fell 121.70, or 1.5 percent, to 7,956.66, as did broader indicators. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.28, or 0.8 percent, to 832.23, and the Nasdaq composite index slid 1.25, or 0.1 percent, to 1,515.05.

U.S. futures traded down, pointing to a lower open on Wall Street. Dow futures were off 27, or 0.3 percent, at 7,898 and S&P500 futures fell 4.4, or 0.5 percent, at 825.40.

Oil prices were little changed in Asia trade, with light, sweet crude for March delivery trading down 2 cents at $40.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 46 cents to settle at $40.32 overnight.

The dollar traded at 89.42 yen, down slightly from 89.45 yen. The euro weakened to $1.2829 versus $1.2838.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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