Asian shares fall on China stimulus worries, weak earnings

Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Friday after an overnight decline on Wall Street spurred by disappointingly weak earnings reports from 3M and other industrial companies.

Concern that China may temper its economic stimulus pulled the Shanghai benchmark down 0.8% to 3,099.36. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.5% to 22,193.41 and the Kospi in South Korea declined 0.6% to 2,175.89. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 6,388.20 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 9.33 points to 29,564.49.

Shares fell in Taiwan and Singapore but rose in Jakarta.

Traders are watching for U.S. growth data later in the day and China-U.S. trade talks next week in Beijing.

Disappointingly weak earnings reports from 3M and other industrial companies kept U.S. stock indexes in check on Thursday, blotting out a set of blowout results from big-name tech companies.

3M, the maker of Scotch tape and various products for businesses, reported weaker revenue and profit than Wall Street expected for the first three months of the year. It also slashed its profit forecast for the full year, while United Parcel Service said its net income fell 17% on nearly flat revenue.

They helped drag industrial stocks to the largest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500, and 3M’s loss dealt a particular sharp blow to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The S&P 500 edged 1.08 points lower to 2,926.17 while the Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 0.5%, to 26,462.08. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.2% to 8,118.68.

Tech companies have been leading the way this year, as the S&P 500 index returned to a record this week, on expectations that they can continue to deliver strong growth despite a slowing global economy. And many are delivering: Revenue jumped 14% for Microsoft and 26% for Facebook from a year ago.

Earnings reporting season is about a third of the way in, and investors are searching for clues about whether profit growth can accelerate later this year following a weak first quarter. The stock market has had a furious rally this year, largely because the Federal Reserve has said that it is halting its plan to raise interest rates, at least temporarily.

Analysts are now forecasting a drop of 2.8% in earnings for S&P 500 companies this reporting season. That’s not as bad as the 4% decline they were expecting a few weeks ago.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gave up 31 cents to $64.90 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 68 cents to $65.21 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 18 cents to $73.46 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 111.67 Japanese yen, up from 111.63 yen on Thursday. The euro was unchanged at $1.1133.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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