Asian shares little changed ahead of earnings

 AP Photo

TOKYO — Asian stocks were little changed in subdued trading Thursday morning amid worries about lagging shares on Wall Street overnight, and ahead of a slew of earnings reports in coming sessions.

The benchmark Nikkei shed 0.2 percent to 14,698.79 in morning trading. The Shanghai Composite Index slipped just under 0.1 percent to 2,032.14 in morning trading.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.6 percent to 21,844.08, while South Korea’s Kospi fell nearly 0.2 percent to 1,908.83 in early trading.

“There is little material to move the market in either direction right now,” said Masahiro Yamaguchi at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo.

Market players saw earnings results were mixed in the United States, and they are taking a wait-and-see attitude on what to expect as Japanese companies begin to announce earnings this week, he said.

But, in the long term, optimism rules on a recovery in Asia, and hopes are high earnings reports will be positive, Yamaguchi said.

Japan has gotten a perk lately from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” policies that have helped push the dollar higher, which helps Japanese exporters like Toyota Motor Corp. and Canon Inc.

Despite European market sentiments being boosted by strong economic figures out of Europe, U.S. markets were weighed down by a sales warning from Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction equipment company.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 25 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 15,542. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell six points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,685.

Besides Caterpillar, earnings from AT&T also disappointed, though reports from Boeing Co., Apple and Ford Motor Co. were better than expected.

The dollar was trading at 100.1 yen and 0.7577 euro in Tokyo.

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