Asian stocks closed mixed on Thursday, with major markets fading after initially trading higher on the back of Wall Street’s earnings-led advance, while Chinese shares extended their losing streak.
The Nikkei 225 slipped into negative territory after gaining during morning trade, closing lower after four straight sessions of gains. The benchmark closed lower by 0.13 percent, or 29.51 points, at 22,764.68. Declines in consumer stocks and power companies weighed on the benchmark, although banks, steelmakers and semiconductor industry plays held onto gains, with Advantest rising 3.36 percent.
Over in South Korea, the Kospi edged lower by 0.34 to close at 2,282.29 despite large cap tech stocks advancing. Steelmakers dropped after the European Union said it would initiate measures to target steel imports after the U.S. administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum earlier this year. Posco finished the day lower by 1.41 percent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed lower by 0.38 percent at 28,010.86, the consumer and services stocks leading the declines.
Mainland China indexes saw steeper losses. The Shanghai composite shed 0.51 percent to close at 2,772.98, marking a fifth straight session of declines. The Shenzhen composite finished the day down 0.79 percent. Airline stocks slumped amid the weaker yuan, with Air China and China Eastern Airlines falling 5.03 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
Amid the declines, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 bucked the trend to advance 0.28 percent to 6,262.70 as industrials and heavily weighted financials rose. Elsewhere, Southeast Asian indexes were also in the money ahead of the market close, with Singapore’s Straits Times Index gaining 0.98 percent and Malaysia’s KLCI higher by 0.47 percent at 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN.
MSCI’s index of shares in Asia Pacific outside of Japan inched lower by 0.14 percent in the afternoon.
The mixed trade came after markets stateside closed higher for the most part on Wednesday as stocks were buoyed by strong corporate earnings reports from Morgan Stanley and rail transportation company CSX. Both posted stronger-than-expected results in the second quarter. Sector-wise, financials led the climb, while technology stocks declined.
Analysts at FactSet expect S&P 500 earnings to have grown by 20 percent in the second quarter. With slightly more than 9 percent of S&P 500 companies having released their latest set of results, earnings have grown 22.1 percent.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell mostly reinforced his upbeat view on the U.S. economy in his second testimony to congress in the week. Analysts, however, pointed out that Powell had said the U.S. was not quite at full employment.
On the trade front, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said trade talks with China have stalled.
“I think this is still part of the negotiation. We’re taking some kind of extreme views. I’m hoping cooler heads prevail and realize that we need to reach some kind of agreement because we do not want to derail the global economy. Obviously nobody is going to benefit if we teeter into a global recession,” Jack McIntyre, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global Investment Management, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
However, negotiations with other trading partners could prove to be more promising, with Kudlow adding that a trade offer from the European Union was in the works. Also of note, Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. could “do a deal separately” with Mexico and Canada, raising questions over the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The dollar index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of currencies, firmed to trade at 95.189. Meanwhile, the yen was mostly steady, trading at 112.81 to the dollar after touching its lowest level in around six months in the last session.
The Australian dollar pared gains made on the back of better-than-expected jobs data, trading at $0.7392 at 2:47 p.m. HK/SIN.
Meanwhile, the yuan slipped further against the dollar after the Chinese central bank set the official mid-point at 6.7066 to the dollar, past the key 6.7 level. The on-shore yuan traded at 6.7494 to the dollar at 2:48 p.m. HK/SIN after touching a one-year low earlier in the session.
On the energy front, oil prices were mostly steady after an unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories was overshadowed by strong U.S. demand data for gasoline overnight. U.S. crude futures edged lower by 0.1 percent to trade at $68.69 per barrel and Brent crude slipped 0.27 percent to trade at $72.70. Both contracts settled higher by 1 percent on Wednesday.
— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.