Asian shares fall as auto, games firms hurt Tokyo

Asian shares fall as auto, games firms hurt Tokyo

Hong Kong: Asian markets slipped on Tuesday, led by Tokyo as game-linked stocks fell on weak earnings from Nintendo, while auto firms were hurt by an outlook downgrade for Toyota, Nissan and Honda.

Trade was edgy ahead of fresh corporate results this week and the US Federal Reserve’s monthly monetary policy meeting, with investors looking to see if it decides to begin tightening measures.

Tokyo’s Nikkei shed 0.98% by the break, Hong Kong fell 0.41%, Shanghai slipped 0.22% and Singapore dipped 0.27% while Seoul was 0.26% off.

Sydney was closed for a public holiday.

In Japan gaming giant Nintendo said on Monday that net profit for the year to March slumped 66.1%, a second straight yearly fall as sales tumbled 29%.

The news sent Nintendo almost 4% lower on Tuesday, despite the firm also saying that it was planning to unveil a successor to its hugely popular Wii console in 2012.

“A drop in sales to some extent was expected, but investors were further disappointed by the lack of share reaction to the announcement of a new game console," Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The weak data and strengthening yen sent other games-related firms down, with Capcom off 1.9% and Sony down 1.8%.

Auto shares fell after Toyota, Nissan and Honda were all put on alert by Standard & Poor’s that they could have their credit ratings downgraded following the impact of the 11 March earthquake and tsunami on sales and output.

The warning that their outlook had been revised down to “negative" from “stable" came after car makers had revealed production at home had slumped last month as factories were closed and power was cut off.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, said that March production in Japan plunged 62.7% year-on-year, while Nissan’s output fell 52.4% and Honda Motor’s output plunged 62.9% because of the quake.

In morning trade on Tuesday Toyota was 1.83% lower, Nissan dropped 0.39% and Honda gave up 1.61%.

On currency markets the euro retreated to $1.4543 in Tokyo morning trade from $1.4572 in New York late Monday. The single European currency also sagged to ¥119.01 from ¥119.24.

The dollar fell to a one-month low of ¥81.56 in early trade but later bounced back to ¥81.81 compared with ¥81.82 in New York.

Eyes are on the Fed meeting that ends on Wednesday to see whether the policy panel extends the $600 billion stimulus put into action last year, which would send the dollar racing.

Hopes had until recently been high that the bank would rein in the spending but with oil prices surging in recent months and spending cuts being announced by the government, dealers are not so sure.

Oil edged down as dealers booked profits after last week’s gains. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, lost 91 cents to $111.37 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for June dipped 66 cents to $123.00.

Gold opened at $1,497.50-$1,498.50 an ounce in Hong Kong, down from Thursday’s close of $1,507.50-$1,508.50. Markets were closed on Friday and Monday for a public holiday.