Most Asian stocks fell as Samsung Electronics Co. reported profit that missed analyst estimates, overshadowing gains by commodity-related companies after oil and metal prices rose.
Samsung, Asia’s largest maker of semiconductors, fell 2.9 percent in Seoul, dragging down chip shares. Canon Inc., a camera maker that gets more than a quarter of its sales in the Americas, lost 1.3 percent in Tokyo after U.S. companies cut jobs last month, raising concern the economic recovery will slow. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, gained 1 percent in Sydney. STX Pan Ocean Co., South Korea’s No. 1 bulk carrier, jumped 9.1 percent after shipping rates rose.
Surges in Japan’s and Australia’s currencies drove the U.S.-dollar denominated MSCI Asia Pacific Index up 0.5 percent to 130.70 as of 5:20 p.m. in Tokyo. About seven shares declined for every six that advanced. The gauge was headed to its highest level since August 2008, before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
“Sentiment is fairly mixed,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney- based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which manages $85 billion. “Markets have priced in continuing economic growth and continuing strength in profits, so whenever something negative comes along that questions this, like Samsung, it causes a bit of a setback.”
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.1 percent, reversing a 0.4 percent drop, and the country’s currency surged to a record after a statistics bureau report showed Australian employers added 49,500 workers in September from August. The median estimate of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for an increase of 20,000. The jobless rate was 5.1 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Taiwan’s Taiex index were little changed. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.2 percent. China’s markets were closed for a holiday this week and reopen tomorrow.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. The index fell 0.1 percent yesterday from a five-month high on Oct. 5 after figures from ADP Employer Services showed companies in the U.S. cut 39,000 jobs last month. Economists had forecast 20,000 would be added, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
The International Monetary Fund said yesterday after Asian markets closed that high unemployment, public debt and fragile banking systems pose risks to global prosperity, urging policy makers to take bolder steps to ensure a sustained recovery.
The world economy will expand 4.2 percent next year, the Washington-based IMF said, down from its forecast of 4.3 percent three months ago. The fund projects growth of 4.8 percent this year, up from 4.6 percent.
Technology-related companies fell the most today among the 10 industry groups in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. Samsung Electronics lost 2.9 percent to 770,000 won in Seoul after reporting third-quarter operating income of 4.8 trillion won ($4.3 billion), short of the 5.03 trillion won average estimate from 11 analyst estimates surveyed by Bloomberg.
“Concerns about the fourth quarter will get more serious,” said Kim Young Joon, an analyst at LIG Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul. “It’s becoming increasingly certain profitability from semiconductors will worsen and television margins will stay bad because of prices.”
Hynix Semiconductor Inc. lost 0.9 percent in Seoul. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest custom maker of chips, fell 0.8 percent to NT$61.30 in Taipei. Advantest Corp., the world’s largest maker of chip testers, sank 2 percent to 1,730 yen in Tokyo.
Samsung was the heaviest drag on the MSCI index, followed by Canon, which slipped 1.3 percent to 3,875 yen. In Sydney, James Hardie Industries SE, the biggest seller of home siding in the U.S., fell 2.3 percent to A$5.66 and ResMed Inc., which makes machines that regulate breathing and gets more than half its sales in the U.S., dropped 2.3 percent to A$3.37.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index has risen 20 percent from this year’s low on May 25 and has gained 8 percent in 2010 on speculation profit growth will weather Europe’s debt crisis, China’s steps to curb property-price inflation and concern about the pace of the U.S. recovery. Stocks in the gauge trade at 14.4 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.8 times for the S&P 500 and 12.1 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
BHP rose 1 percent to A$40.95 in Sydney. PetroChina Co., the country’s biggest oil company, advanced 0.5 percent to HK$9.55 in Hong Kong. Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s biggest trading company, gained 0.4 percent to 2,029 yen in Tokyo.
Crude oil for November delivery gained 0.5 percent yesterday in New York, the highest settlement since May 3. The London Metal Exchange Index of six metals including aluminum and copper rose 0.6 percent yesterday to the highest level since July 2008.
STX Pan Ocean surged 9.1 percent to 13,150 won in Seoul. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., Japan’s largest shipping line by market value, rose 2.3 percent to 539 yen. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., the world’s largest shipbuilder, jumped 3.6 percent to 345,000 won.
The Baltic Dry Index of commodity-shipping rates jumped 2.7 percent yesterday, rising for a fourth day to its highest level since Sept. 17.
Australia’s benchmark index reversed losses after the employment report. Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd., the country’s second-biggest airline, jumped 3.5 percent to 45 Australian cents. Woolworths Ltd., Australia’s biggest retailer, climbed 0.7 percent to A$30.07. JB Hi-Fi Ltd., an electronics retailer, gained 1.3 percent to A$21.32.
“Australia, which has been a relative underperformer this year, is starting to look a bit better,” said AMP’s Oliver. “Supported by a relatively strong Australian economy, today’s jobs figures were better.”