By PAMELA SAMPSON
BANGKOK – Modest economic growth in the U.S. and mixed corporate earnings dampened stock market sentiment in Asia on Friday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.4 percent to 23,805.63, with yuan shares of Hui Xian Real Estate Investment Trust falling 3.6 percent in their trading debut. They are the first shares denominated in China’s currency to trade outside of mainland China.
South Korea’s Kospi index slipped 0.6 percent to 2,194.54, with technology shares dragging the index down.
Samsung Electronics lost 1.4 percent after the company announced its profit fell 30 percent in the first quarter on declines in memory chip prices and reduced profitability in liquid crystal displays and flat screen televisions. Rival Hynix Semiconductor Inc. slid 2.6 percent. LG Electronics lost 3.7 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was off 0.9 percentto 4,827.40, with mining shares among the big losers. The world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton Ltd., fell 1.1 percent. Shares in Rio Tinto Ltd. lost 1.5 percent.
Singapore’s FTSE Straits Times Index was lower, while benchmarks in Taiwan, Indonesia, and New Zealand rose. On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 2,885.90.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was closed for the start of Golden Week holiday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed at another 2011 high Thursday despite modest U.S. economic growth in the first quarter.
The U.S. economy grew a 1.8 percent annual rate between January and March. That’s the weakest rate since last spring and underscores concerns about the strength of the U.S. recovery. Higher oil prices cut into consumer spending and bad weather slowed down construction projects.
The S&P 500 rose 4.82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,360.48. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 72.35, or 0.6 percent, to 12,763.31. The Nasdaq composite gained 2.65, or 0.1 percent, to 2,872.53.
Corporate earnings were mixed. Procter & Gamble Co. rose nearly 1 percent after the maker of Tide detergent and Pampers diapers reported higher earnings but cut its forecast for the year due to rising costs for raw materials. Exxon Mobil Corp. – the world’s largest publicly traded company – fell 0.5 percent even after the oil giant reported its best quarterly earnings since 2008 – perhaps due to high expectations.
More people applied for unemployment benefits for the first time last week. The increase, the second in three weeks, suggests that the job market remains sluggish.
Benchmark crude for June delivery was down 40 cents to $112.46 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at $112.86 per barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.
The euro was minimally higher at $1.4823 from $1.4821 late Thursday in New York. It had peaked at $1.4881 Thursday, its highest point in nearly 17 months before softening slightly. The dollar weakened to 81.54 yen from 81.57 yen.
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.