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Asia stocks mixed; Nikkei ends down 0.8% as Sony tanks

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Shutterstock photo - - Asian stock markets were mixed on Thursday, with markets in Japan dropping as weak earnings from index heavyweight Sony and a stronger yen overshadowed better than expected data on first quarter growth.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.25%, China's Shanghai Composite slumped 0.93%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.26% higher, while Japan's Nikkei 225 ended down 0.75%.

Asia was given a negative lead from the U.S., where the Dow Jones and S&P 500 fell from record highs as the U.S. 10-Year Treasury yield plunged to a six-month low, underlining concerns over slowing economic growth.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei was weighed by a 6.1% plunge in Sony (TOKYO:6758) shares. The electronics maker posted a net loss of 128.37 billion yen in the year ending March 2014 after markets closed on Wednesday and forecast another annual loss for the current fiscal year.

Preliminary data released earlier showed that Japan's economy grew by 1.5% in the first three months of the year, beating expectations for growth of 1%. On an annualized basis, the country's gross domestic product rose 5.9% in the first quarter, above forecasts for an increase of 4.2%.

USD/JPY fell to a session low of 101.65, the lowest since May 9. A stronger yen reduces the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, weighing on the outlook for export earnings.

Elsewhere, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index swung between small gains and losses as investors continued to weigh corporate earnings.

Graincorp (ASX:GNC) shares reversed earlier losses to end 0.8% higher despite reporting a 43% drop in fiscal first half profit from the same period a year earlier.

Meanwhile, shares in Hong Kong advanced for the sixth consecutive session, but markets in the mainland edged lower amid ongoing concerns over the health of China's economy.

Index heavyweight Tencent (HK:0700) rallied 6% after the online giant posted a 60% surge in first-quarter profit.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a weaker open. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 futures pointed to a loss of 0.1%, France's CAC 40 dipped 0.15%, London's FTSE 100 indicated a decline of 0.1%, while Germany's DAX shed 0.15%.

The euro zone is to publish preliminary data on first quarter gross domestic product. The bloc is also to produce revised data on consumer inflation.

Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets pointed to a firm open. The Dow pointed to a gain of 0.1%, S&P 500 inched up 0.15%, while the Nasdaq 100 indicated a rise of 0.25%.

The U.S. is to release data on initial jobless claims, consumer inflation and industrial production, as well as a report on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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