Asian Stocks Fall on Earnings Concern; Central Glass Leads Drop

Asian stocks fell after Central Glass Co. and Citizen Watch Co. cut their annual earnings forecasts and BlueScope Steel Ltd.'s rating was lowered by a brokerage on concern profit growth may slow. ``The cuts in earnings forecasts are not good for market sentiment and are prompting investors to sell,'' said Hiroshi Hashimoto, who oversees the equivalent of $7.1 billion at Fukoku Capital Management Inc. in Tokyo. ``It's hard to see that there's going to be an increase in profitability next year.'' Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 0.1 percent to 11,636.28 at the 11 a.m. break.

The broader Topix also declined 0.1 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2 percent.

All other benchmarks in the region open for trading fell, except the Philippines and China.

Central Glass, a Japanese glass products maker, dropped 4.5 percent to 702 yen. After the market closed yesterday, the company cut its full-year net income forecast 10 percent to 11.7 billion yen ($111 million), citing increased fuel costs and slowing demand for electronics.

Citizen Watch, Japan's biggest watchmaker, lost 3.9 percent to 950 yen after cutting its full-year profit forecast 9.3 percent to 19.5 billion yen because of lower-than-expected sales from its watch and electronic equipment businesses.

In Australia, BlueScope, the country's largest steelmaker, lost 2.3 percent to A$9.98. Macquarie Equities Ltd. cut its rating on the company, saying BlueScope's share price doesn't reflect future earnings growth.

Venture Corp.

The shares, which have surged 67 percent in the past year, rose to a record high yesterday after the company said first-half profit doubled as surging demand from China pushed up prices.

Venture Corp., Singapore's biggest publicly traded maker of electronics, dropped 2.5 percent to S$15.60, after reporting fourth-quarter profit that missed some analysts' expectations.

The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index, which tracks more than 900 companies in the region and is denominated in U.S. dollars, gained 0.1 percent to 101.82.

An industry measure tracking energy stocks was the best performer, adding 0.4 percent.

Origin Energy, Australia's second-largest energy retailer, led the gains, climbing 2.8 percent to A$7.06. The company said it sold A$641 million of shares at A$5.70 apiece to buy back preferred stock and cut debt.

Regional oil-related shares also advanced after crude oil prices in London rose 0.9 percent to $46.77 a barrel, the highest in more than three weeks, as colder weather boosted heating-fuel use in Europe and the U.S.

Santos Ltd., Australia's third-biggest oil producer, gained 2.1 percent to A$9.18. Nippon Oil Corp., Japan's biggest refiner, added 0.7 percent to 777 yen.

Among the worst performers in the region, Promina Group Ltd., Australia's second-biggest general insurer, dropped 3.8 percent to A$5.27 after the company boosted provisions for asbestos-related diseases, citing ``greater-than-expected'' claims.

600450 Asian Stocks Fall on Earnings Concern; Central Glass Leads Drop
Date: 23 February 2005

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