Global Markets: Asian shares fall
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Asian shares declined on Friday as investors kept a wary eye on corporate earnings results under way, worried about the outlook for corporate performance as the region's exporters struggle against shrinking global demand.
With risk aversion setting in, pressure to sell the yen slackened to help the currency, regarded as a safer asset, recover from this week's lows, despite expectations for further easing measures by the Bank of Japan on Tuesday.
Oil retreated after rising on Thursday, while London copper edged higher after a fall to a six-week low in the previous session triggered some short-covering.
Samsung Electronics reported record quarterly profits for a fourth straight quarter on Friday. And Bank of China Ltd posted its biggest quarterly profit gain in a year the day before, but they failed to remove concerns about the outlook.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5 percent, dragged down by a 1.3 percent slide in South Korean shares to their lowest since early September. Australian shares wiped out early gains and eased 0.4 percent, offsetting support from a rise in iron ore prices to a 3-month high.
Some markets in the region were closed on Friday, including the Philippines and Singapore, to mark a religious holiday.
Samsung Electronics, the world's largest electronics company and accounting for about 15 percent of Korea's benchmark KOSPI index, reported record quarterly profit of $7.4 billion on Friday. But profit will likely decline into next year as TV markets stagnate and growth in the high-end smartphone market eases from the recent breakneck speed.
Though Samsung's sales, particularly of its smartphones, are impressive, what shareholders would like to see is margins that are closer to those of Apple, said Lee Yong-jik, a fund manager at Pine Bridge Investments, who owns shares of the company.
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