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Asian shares mostly higher with earnings in focus

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Shutterstock photo - - Asian stocks mostly gained Thursday, with Japan leading the region up and investors digesting heavy earnings news out of Hong Kong and Australia.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index wavered near the break-even line, after jumping 0.8% Wednesday and setting a fresh high for the year. The index appears to be cooling from a strong run that started early July. Investors in China have been hoping for further stimulus measures, following a string of weak Chinese economic data Wednesday, including a fall in credit growth in July.

Reaction to earnings for two Chinese technology stocks were mixed.

Personal-computer maker Lenovo Group (HK:0992) up 0.5%, after the firm reported solid earnings growth of 23% in the second quarter, on the back of stronger PC and smartphone sales.

But investors took profits on Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd (OTC:TCTZF). The stock fell 1.7%, despite the firm reporting a 59% year over year rise in second-quarter profit.

The Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.3%.

Meanwhile the Nikkei 225 in this trade as many traders were absent for the Obon midsummer holiday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4% and South Korea's KOSPI was 0.2% higher.

Trading in Sydney was supported by positive earnings reports, with Telstra Corporation Ltd. (ASX:TLS) up 1.9% after the telecoms company said that it plans to buy back up to 1 billion Australian dollars ($930 million) of its own shares, while its net profit for the year through June rose to A$4.3 billion.

Overnight, a rally in the biotech sector send broader U.S. stock indices rising despite a weaker-than-expected report on retail sales.

The Dow 30 rose 0.55%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.67%, while the NASDAQ Composite index rose 1.02%.

Biotech and airline stocks rallied on Wednesday, which brought broader stock indices up with them, especially on sentiments that geopolitical fears haven't panned out.

While nerves remain on edge over conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq, military operations have calmed in recent sessions, which gave bottom fishers reason to snap up nicely-priced stocks.

Russia recently wrapped up military exercises on its border with Ukraine, while the U.S. has launched airstrikes to quell a Sunni insurgency, which brought in the buyers on Wall Street on Wednesday despite weak retail sales data.

The Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. retail sales came in flat last month, disappointing market expectations for a 0.2% increase.

Core retail sales, which exclude auto sales, rose just 0.1% in July, below expectations for a 0.4% gain.

On Thursday, the U.S. is to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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