Singapore: Most major Asian stock markets eased on Tuesday as technology stocks like Samsung Electronics sagged after weak earnings from bellwether Texas Instruments, while the firmer yen weighed on Japanese exporters.
Nervous share trading bolstered save-haven investments, nudging up gold and lifting Japanese government bond futures to another six-week high.
The dollar, dogged by persistent worries about the fall-out from the U.S. housing and mortgage woes, was unable to hold on to Monday’s modest gains and dipped to a two-month low against the yen. The firmer Japanese currency began to eat into gains notched up earlier by exporters like Sony Corp. <6758.T> and Canon Inc.
Japan’s Nikkei see-sawed in early trade to settle 0.1% lower by midsession.
Recent gainers such as Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd and other metal stocks fell in cautious trade ahead of the earnings season peak and this weekend’s election.
In Seoul, optimism about earnings and economic growth propelled the main index above the 2,000-point level for the first time, although worries about the outlook for technology companies such as Samsung and LG Electronics later knocked it into the red and by 0240 GMT the market was down 0.4%.
“Breaking 2,000 points was a key milestone, but I think people were ready to sell as soon as that happened. Texas Instruments could be having an impact on IT shares,” said Park Suk-hyun, an analyst at Kyobo Securities.
Texas Instruments shares fell in after-hours trading in New York after its revenue outlook of the world’s biggest maker of chips for mobile phones disappointed.
US leg up
The mood was more buoyant elsewhere in Asia which took heart from the Wall Street recovery, which was triggered by positive earnings from industry giants, such as drug maker Merck & Co. and a fresh bout of takeovers.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.7% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.1%.
MSCI’s broadest index of shares in Asia outside of Japan rose 0.4% by 0240 GMT.
Australian shares, led by top miner BHP Billiton erased Monday’s losses and rose 0.5 % . Hong Kong stocks edged up 0.4% to a record high at the open, while Taiwan gained 0.9% and shares in Singapore climbed 0.7%.
Wall Street’s rebound and assurances from US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that problems in the subprime mortgage loan sector could be contained and would not hurt the overall economy, offered little respite for the embattled dollar.
The U.S. currency was down 0.36% at around 120.60 yen -- a two-month low -- and hovered just above an all-time low against the euro.
Investors were waiting nervously for US economic data this week to show whether the problems in the housing market were affecting broader economic activity.
“The dollar remains top-heavy as it has not risen despite such favourable factors as a rise in US stocks and comments from Paulson,” said a head of foreign-exchange sales at a European bank in Tokyo.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book survey of US economic conditions. Home sales data and second-quarter gross domestic product figures are also due later this week.
Oil markets offered respite for investors dreading a scenario where US growth suffers from housing woes but inflation stays high because of costly oil.
US crude price dipped on expectations of higher US refinery production and after the oil exporting cartel OPEC pledged to pump more crude if needed.