Asian stocks mostly down as funds shift to US

Associated Press
An investor gestures at a private securities company in Shanghai, China, Thursday, July 18, 2013. Asian stocks were mostly higher Thursday, tracking overnight gains in Europe and Wall Street after U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's suggested stimulus policies may continue for longer than expected. (AP Photo)
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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly down Friday after disappointing earnings from two U.S. technology giants and as fund managers shift money from Asia to the U.S. amid concerns that growth is slowing in China while Japan's economic reforms may be losing steam.

Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.4 percent at 14,608.05 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.4 percent to 4,975.90.

Benchmarks in Singapore, the Philippines, New Zealand and Taiwan were also lower while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added just 0.1 percent to 21,361.28. Seoul's Kospi wavered between gains and losses. The Shanghai Composite index was up 0.2 percent to 2,026.41.

China earlier this week reported its second straight quarter of slower growth and authorities appear determined to stick to a path of shifting the economy away from reliance on investment and exports, which could dent economic activity in the near term.

In Japan, the initial euphoria over the "Abenomics" stimulus policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has faded and doubts have emerged about whether deeper reforms will be carried out.

"Although the U.S. market is at record high, in Asia, people are still worried about two things: one, the slowdown in China, and then number two, the situation in Japan," said Francis Lun of GE Oriental Financial Group. He said there was concern "Abenomics may be running out of steam."

Lun said because the U.S. markets are doing well, a lot of fund managers have been shifting money from Asia to America.

"You have an exodus of funds that began in the second half of May and the exodus is still continuing," he said.

U.S. stocks rose to record levels Thursday on earnings gains at major U.S. companies and encouraging economic news.

Claims for unemployment benefits fell and manufacturing surged in the mid-Atlantic region. Higher earnings from companies including UnitedHealth Group and Morgan Stanley also helped though reports from Microsoft and Google after the close of trading were less impressive.

Google's quarterly report its average ad rate fell from the previous year for the seventh consecutive quarter. In an unexpected turn, the decline deepened for the first time in a year.

Software giant Microsoft booked a large write-off to its Surface RT business after it slashed prices on the tablets to stimulate demand this week. Its quarterly earnings results also showed that Windows 8, an operating system designed to bridge the divide between PCs and tablets, has been so poorly received that it contributed to a revenue drop in its operating system software unit.

The S&P 500 closed up 0.5 percent at 1,689.37 and the Dow rose 0.5 percent to 15,548.54.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of British shares rose 1 percent Thursday to close at 6,634.36 while the CAC-40 in France gained 1.4 percent to 3,927.79. Germany's DAX rose 1 percent to 8,337.09

Benchmark crude for August delivery was down 7 cents at $107.97 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $1.56 to close at $108.04 on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3136 from $1.3106 late Thursday. The dollar fell to 100.07 yen from 100.48 yen.

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