[SINGAPORE] Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index heading for its first decline in three days, following losses in US shares amid growing pessimism over corporate earnings.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.5 per cent to 127.16 as of 9:09 am in Tokyo.
Japan's Topix index fell 0.9 per cent, with Toyota Motor Corp slumping 3.7 per cent after forecasting its first annual profit drop in five years due to a stronger yen.
With pessimism over the global outlook and concern over central banks' firepower already keeping investors on tenterhooks, the mixed corporate earnings season has provided another dampener for equity markets, which lost more than US$1 trillion in value last week.
"There's just enough out there to keep investors cautious," Tim Schroeders, a Melbourne-based portfolio manager at Pengana Capital Ltd, who helps oversee about US$1.2 billion in assets, said by phone.
"We've got earnings disappointments and currency volatility, so people are sitting back and waiting as oppose to continuing with the frenzy."
South Korea's Kospi index lost 0.3 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index were little changed. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading.
Nissan Motor Co fell 1.8 per cent in Tokyo, while Mitsubishi Motors Corp was yet to start trading after the companies said they're in talks, including for a possible capital tie-up, amid a fuel-economy ratings scandal that has battered Mitsubishi Motors.
Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index added 0.1 per cent in their most recent trading, while those for the Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 per cent. Chinese stocks in Hong Kong resumed declines Wednesday as financial companies slumped amid speculation the government will refrain from adding stimulus even as the economy slows.
The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in the city dropped 0.5 per cent, falling for a seventh time in eight days. The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.2 per cent, paring gains of as much as 0.9 per cent.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index gained 0.1 per cent. The underlying US equity benchmark index dropped 1 per cent on Wednesday as disappointing results from Macy's Inc. to Walt Disney Co heightened concern that American consumers remain hesitant to boost spending.