Asian markets fall, dealers seek fresh impetus

PHOTO: Asian markets fall, dealers seek fresh impetus

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mostly lower Tuesday following losses in New York as dealers took profits from recent advances while also seeking fresh catalysts.

Tokyo was also weighed by a rise in the yen, which has suffered heavy selling in recent weeks, while the South Korean bourse slipped on disappointment over the latest earnings guidance from Samsung Electronics.

Tokyo slipped 0.38 per cent, Hong Kong lost 0.40 per cent, Sydney was flat, Seoul was down 0.36 per cent and Shanghai was 0.83 per cent lower.

With the US fiscal cliff crisis out of the way for a few weeks, eyes are now on the upcoming earnings season and economic indicators.

China is due to unveil several batches of data this week, including on trade, inflation and gross domestic product, with most economists upbeat following a series of results suggesting the economy is picking up strength.

However, Wall Street provided a negative lead owing to caution ahead of the start of the corporate reporting season later Tuesday.

The Dow shed 0.38 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 0.31 per cent and the Nasdaq edged down 0.09 per cent.

In Tokyo the Nikkei fell as the yen picked up slightly against the dollar and euro, although analysts said its relative weakness should continue to provide support.

"The market remains overheated after running up so much over the past several weeks, making it vulnerable to more selling," SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires.

"Currency levels remain somewhat supportive... so this should hold any sharp sell-offs in check," Nishi said.

The dollar stood at 87.50 yen, from 87.89 in New York on Monday afternoon. The euro bought $1.3110 and 114.73 yen, from $1.3115 and 115.09 yen in New York.

Seoul's Kospi was dragged lower by heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which disappointed traders despite forecasting a record operating profit of $8.8 billion for the three months to the end of December.

"Investors appear concerned that Samsung may not show a better performance in the first quarter, with some of them taking profit," said Hyundai Securities analyst Bae Sung-Young.

Oil prices rose, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, gaining seven cents to $93.26 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for February delivery gained 17 cents to $111.57.

Gold was at $1,649.15 at 0240 GMT compared with $1,654.50 late Monday.