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Asia Markets: Tokyo down for 7th straight day; Asia mostly lower

By Virginia Harrison and V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian markets fell Wednesday as heightened worries about rising Spanish and Italian bond yields weighed on investor sentiment, sending Japanese stocks lower for a seventh straight trading day.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index


/quotes/zigman/2622475 HK:HSI
-1.06%



 fell 1.1% to 20,140.67, Australia’s SP/ASX 200 index


/quotes/zigman/1653884 AU:XJO
-1.08%



 dropped 1.1% to 4,246.10 and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average


/quotes/zigman/5986735 JP:100000018
-0.83%



declined 0.8% to 9,458.74.

The Nikkei, which ranked among the world’s best performing benchmarks in the first quarter with a gain of more than 19%, has shed 6.2% of its value so far this month.

China’s Shanghai Composite


/quotes/zigman/1859015 CN:000001
+0.13%



 edged 0.1% higher to 2,308.92 after changing direction a few times in choppy trading, while Taiwan’s Taiex


/quotes/zigman/1565586 XX:Y9999
+0.21%



 gained 0.2% to 7,656.67. South Korean markets were closed for national elections.


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“The issue [of Europe] has been quiet for the past month, and it will continue to pressure global markets in the short-term,” said Conita Hung, head of equity markets at Delta Asia Financial Group in Hong Kong.

“Asia markets will be more volatile in the coming weeks and will look to economic data in the U.S. and China, as well as U.S. corporate earnings season,” she added.

Asian markets began the day in reverse gear after European stocks plunged and U.S. stocks suffered this year’s worst drop on Tuesday, as a sharp rise in Spanish and Italian borrowing costs stirred fresh worries about Europe’s debt crisis.
Read more on the U.S. session.

But many regional markets came off the day’s lows as U.S. stock index futures climbed after aluminum producer Alcoa Inc.


/quotes/zigman/246295/quotes/nls/aa AA
-2.92%



 reported a surprise profit after U.S. markets closed.
Read more on Alcoa’s result.

The decline in Tokyo also came as Sony Corp.


/quotes/zigman/197500 JP:6758
-4.48%






/quotes/zigman/197524/quotes/nls/sne SNE
-9.25%



and Sharp Corp.


/quotes/zigman/197304 JP:6753
-3.21%






/quotes/zigman/197677 SHCAY
-4.93%



each disappointed with a weak earnings forecast.
Read more on Sony guidance.

Sony stock tumbled 4.5% and Sharp gave up 3.2%.
Read about Sharp’s downgrade.

Some other exporters fell on the yen’s recent appreciation. Panasonic Corp.


/quotes/zigman/194943 JP:6752
-2.24%






/quotes/zigman/525474/quotes/nls/pc PC
-6.21%



 dropped 2.2%, Fujifilm Holdings Corp.


/quotes/zigman/192939 JP:4901
-3.28%



 


/quotes/zigman/435619 FUJIY
-1.94%



 shed 3.3% and Pioneer Corp.


/quotes/zigman/196846 JP:6773
-1.26%



 


/quotes/zigman/529202 PNCOY
-1.79%



 declined 1.3%.

The region’s aluminum shares fell under the influence of the broader market decline, despite Alcoa’s upbeat results. In Sydney trading, Alumina Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/315546 AU:AWC
-0.42%






/quotes/zigman/315512/quotes/nls/awc AWC
-2.85%



lost 0.4%, Nippon Light Metal Co.


/quotes/zigman/196058 JP:5701
-2.56%



lost 2.6% in Tokyo and United Co. Rusal


/quotes/zigman/48089 HK:486
-2.08%



 dropped 2.1% in Hong Kong.

Several resource firms declined on fresh worries about Europe and after crude-oil and copper prices declined overnight.

In Sydney, BHP Billiton Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/180893 AU:BHP
-1.93%



 


/quotes/zigman/270355/quotes/nls/bhp BHP
-1.27%



 and Woodside Petroleum Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/181325 AU:WPL
-1.87%



 


/quotes/zigman/182283 WOPEY
-2.23%



 each dropped 1.9%, while Inpex Corp.


/quotes/zigman/396975 IPXHF
+19.13%



 


/quotes/zigman/396971 JP:1605
-0.76%



shed 0.8% in Tokyo. In Hong Kong, Cnooc Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/274848/quotes/nls/ceo CEO
-2.96%






/quotes/zigman/29647 HK:883
-2.05%



 and PetroChina Co.


/quotes/zigman/257868/quotes/nls/ptr PTR
-1.84%






/quotes/zigman/21986 HK:857
-1.47%



gave up 2.1% and 1.5%, respectively.

Property developers also contributed to the overall weakness in Hong Kong, where Sino Land Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/14435 HK:83
-3.95%



  


/quotes/zigman/134942 SNLAY
-0.24%



 tumbled 4%, while CC Land Holdings Ltd.


/quotes/zigman/37771 HK:1224
-0.62%



 dropped 0.6% and Guangzhou RF Properties Co.


/quotes/zigman/36515 HK:2777
-1.39%






/quotes/zigman/530228 GZUHY
+7.45%



shed 1.4%.

But some analysts remained optimistic about developers, with Deutsche Bank strategists naming Guangzhou RF and CC Land among its top picks.

“We anticipate sales volume to pick up in the coming weeks on strong end-user demand, more new project launches and developers more willing to cut prices,” the strategists said.

In Shanghai, meanwhile, some property developers continued to rise amid expectations the government will loosen its policies. Cinda Real Estate Co.


/quotes/zigman/1858975 CN:600657
+2.53%



 added 2.5% and Poly Real Estate Group Co.


/quotes/zigman/1873491 CN:600048
+1.03%



 gained 1% in Shanghai, while Oceanwide Real Estate Group Co.


/quotes/zigman/1859614 CN:000046
+6.00%



 soared 6% in Shenzhen.

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Virginia Harrison is a MarketWatch reporter based in Sydney.
Varahabhotla Phani Kumar is a reporter in MarketWatch’s Hong Kong bureau.

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