Asia: Financials take Tokyo out of the red



LONDON (ShareCast) - Stocks in Tokyo settled higher, after a choppy session, as financials spearheaded gains, while most other indices in Asia ended lower.

Investors cheered strong earnings results from Sumitomo Mitsui Financial (NYSE: SMFG - news) . The group reported third quarter net profit of ¥550bn, beating expectations.

Peers Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (Other OTC: MBFJF - news) and Mizuho Financial (NYSE: MFG - news) advanced 3.6% and 2.8% respectively.

The strong show among Japanese banks overshadowed otherwise disappointing performances from the likes of Canon (Other OTC: CAJFF - news) and Advantest.

Camera maker Canon fell 0.6% after it posted a weaker than anticipated annual operating profit of ¥323.9bn.

Meanwhile Advantest eased 1.8% after it reported an operating loss of ¥2.6bn for the third quarter. The firm also trimmed its full year profit forecasts.

Games giant Nintendo tumbled 4.6% after reporting a quarterly operating profit of ¥23.3bn. Analysts had predicted profit of ¥32.6bn.

Otherwise market sentiment was hurt early on after disappointing Japanese industrial output data for December, which was released before the start of trading. Traders mostly overlooked uninspiring US GDP data released on Wall Street overnight.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed up 24 points at 11,138 in lacklustre trading while the Hang Seng retreated 92 points at 23,729.

In Hong Kong, Angang Steel fell 5% after the group warned of larger losses in 2012. The warning prompted downbeat broker coverage from JP Morgan.

Oil giant Cnooc (HKSE: 0883.HK - news) dropped 2.3% after it revealed weaker than predicted production guidance for 2013.

Mobile phone giant China Unicom bucked the downbeat trend, rising 1.6% after it issued a stronger than expected profit forecast.