Asian markets settled in the red on Thursday, after disappointing earning updates and as hopes for further stimulus from the Federal Reserve fade.
The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book reported gradual US economic expansion on Wednesday. The report cited encouraging housing data while manufacturing remained subdued.
Stronger than expected US housing data plus a separate report showing US gross domestic product was upwardly revised to an annual rate of 1.7% in the quarter to June from 1.5% in a previous estimate, dampened expectations that the Fed will announce fresh measures to boost the economy.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed down 86 points at 8,983 in Tokyo. The Hang Seng tumbled 235 points at 19,552 in Hong Kong.
Markets have been gearing up for Friday’s key meeting among financial leaders at the Jackson Hole summit. Hopes had been high that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke would signal more stimulus in his speech but after stronger than expected housing figures, analysts said the likelihood of a new round of bond purchases had dimmed.
Meanwhile in Japanese economic news retail sales fell 0.8% in July compared to the previous year. The data put pressure on Asian retailers on Thursday. Shares of Fast Retailing fell 1.5% and Seven & I Holdings lost 2.1%.
Commodities also came under pressure after a decline in prices. Shares of JFE Holdings dropped 3%, Nippon Steel Corp fell 4.2% while Kobe Steel declined 1.6%.
In Hong Kong Jiangxi Copper surrendered 2% after it posted a massive drop in first half profit as copper prices fell.
Elsewhere in earnings news, China Cosco dragged 5% after it revealed a bigger first half net loss of 4.87bn as freight rates dropped.
China Shipping Container Lines also fell after posting a wider net loss.
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