Asian shares mostly drifted lower Friday, the last trading day of the quarter, as the markets watched for news out of a European Union crisis summit taking place in Brussels.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average JP:100000018 -0.13 percent lost 0.1 percent on Friday, heading toward a 12.1 percent loss for the quarter. South Korea’s Kospi KR:SEU +0.61 percent dropped 0.3 percent, bringing quarter-to-date losses to 9.9 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index AU:XJO +1.27 percent slipped 0.1 percent with three-month-to-date losses at 6.8 percent.
The Shanghai Composite Index CN:000001 +0.27 percent traded flat, with three-month losses at 2.9 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HK:HSI +2.10 percent rose 0.6 percent ahead of a three-day weekend to pare its quarter-to-date losses to 6.8 percent.
US shares ended mildly lower Thursday, after paring a heavier drop late in the session amid reports that European leaders had agreed to spend 120 billion euros ($149.1 billion) on promoting jobs and growth in the region. Read more on US stocks.
As the first day of a two-day summit of European leaders ended, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that “the growth agenda is a sign of our unrelenting commitment. It brings together all the concrete measures that we will swiftly take, in each member state and together as a union.”
But Italy and Spain reportedly refused to back the growth agreement unless Germany agrees to short-term relief measures not included in the proposed growth deal, according to reports. Read more on pact and reported Italian, Spanish objections.
Jose Wynne at Barclays Capital said that the summit was always supposed to set out a long-term framework for European growth, and such plans may be market-relevant but won’t be a game changer for the region as it grapples with its immediate peripheral debt crisis.
“Although expectations have been progressively scaled down in the past few days, the potential stalemate emerging from the summit is not likely to bolster confidence amidst weakening global and European growth,” he said.
Japanese consumer electronics exporters were among the region’s decliners, with Sony Corp. JP:6758 -1.55 percent SNE -0.65 percent down 1.1 percent and Sharp Corp. JP:6753 -1.49 percent SHCAF -8.93 percent lower by 1 percent.
Shipping firms trading lower in Tokyo included Nippon Yusen K.K. JP:9101 -1.44 percent, NYUKF -1.13 percent down 1.8 percent, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd JP:9107 -1.29 percent KAKKF -13.71 percent fell 1.2 percent.
Over in Seoul, Hyundai Motor Co. HYMTF -4.24 percent fell 2.1 percent, while affiliate Kia Motors Corp. KIMTF +8.02 percent declined 1.9 percent, as their unions prepared to vote on whether to conduct a labour strike.
Among financials, Tokyo-listed Nomura Holdings Inc. JP:8604 +3.18 percent NMR 0.00 percent jumped 3.2 percent after the Nikkei reported that Japanese broker said it would suspend marketing at operations found to have leaked non-public information to customers. Read more on Nomura’s reported marketing halt.
Banks were mostly stronger in Hong Kong as well, with Bank of China Ltd HK:3988 +1.74 percent BACHY -0.43 percent up 1.1 percent, and Bank of East Asia Ltd HK:23 +4.49 percent BKEAF +0.60 percent up 2.1 percent.
Additionally, shares of some Hong Kong-listed casino firms were paring weekly losses, with Wynn Macau Ltd HK:1128 +2.62 percent WYNMF +1.36 percent up 1 percent, and Sands China Ltd HK:1928 +3.88 percent higher by 1.9 percent.
In Australia, the retail sector rallied after upmarket department-store operator David Jones Ltd AU:DJS +12.39 percent said that it had received an unsolicited takeover approach from “a non-incorporated UK entity.”
David Jones shares shot up 13.3 percent, while rival Myer Holdings Ltd AU:MYR +4.35 percent jumped 3.9 percent, JB Hi-Fi Ltd AU:JBH +2.79 percent rose 2.1 percent, Billabong International Ltd AU:BBG +2.45 percent climbed 2.9 percent and Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd AU:HVN +2.11 percent added 2.2 percent. -By Sarah Turner