Asia: Stocks advance as Japan's Topix gains with retreat of yen

[SYDNEY] Asian stocks rose, led by Japanese equities as the yen retreated after a seven-day rally amid the start of the US earnings season.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.3 per cent to 127.07 as of 9:13 am in Tokyo. Japan's Topix index jumped 0.9 per cent as the yen slipped.

Alcoa Inc kicked off the earnings season by cutting its outlook after net income declined.

Global equities are under pressure in April amid concern over the potency of central bank stimulus efforts and a selloff in Japanese shares. Stocks in Tokyo are among this year's worst performers as a stronger yen weighs on exporters' profit outlooks and investors question the country's economic fundamentals.

"It's an uncertain time for investors and company management," Chris Konstantinos, director of international portfolio management at Riverfront Investment Group, said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

"Particularly in the large cap exporting space, these companies have had large windfall profits over the past three or four years in part because of the weak yen. It's going to be very difficult for the Toyota's and Honda's of the world to replicate in a world where the yen is going to struggle to stay in this 105 to 110 yen range."

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 0.3 per cent. South Korea's Kospi index rose 0.3 per cent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were little changed. As investors await fresh cues from corporate America, analysts are projecting first-quarter profits will contract 10 per cent - compared with calls for flat earnings growth at the start of the year - including a 20 per cent drop for banks.

Still, for the first time in eight months, the pace at which they are cutting their estimates is slowing.

Alcoa reported slumping quarterly earnings and reduced its outlook for the aluminum and aerospace markets as it prepares to split itself into two companies.



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