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Asia-Pacific Shares Finish Lower, but Outperform Stateside Markets

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were lower across the board on Thursday with China bucking the trend to move modestly higher. The weakness in the East wasn’t nearly as bad as the routs in the United States and Europe the previous sessions, as Asia’s brighter economic outlook offset investor worries about fresh COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe.

In the cash market on Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 23331.94, down 86.57 or -0.37%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24550.17, down 158.63 or -0.64% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2326.67, down 18.59 or -0.79%.

Bank of Japan Trims Growth, Price Forecasts; Keeps Policy Steady

The Bank of Japan on Thursday trimmed its economic and price forecasts for the current fiscal year ending in March 2021, heightening expectations it will maintain its massive stimulus for a time being to cushion the blow from COVID-19.

As widely expected, the central bank kept monetary policy steady, including a -0.1% target for short-term interest rates and a pledge to guide long-term rates around 0%.

It also made no changes to a package of measures to ease corporate funding strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is expected to hold a news conference to explain the policy decision and the new forecasts, which were produced as part of the BOJ’s quarterly report on the economic and price outlook.

Samsung Predicts Fourth-Quarter Decline in Profits Due to Weak Demand and Growing Competition

Shares in South Korea were among the biggest losers regionally, as the KOSPI Index fell as much as 1.69% before settling 0.79% lower. Shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics declined around 2% after the firm on Thursday predicted a fourth-quarter decline in profits.

Samsung Electronics on Thursday said it expects a decline in profit in the three months that will end on December 31 due to weak memory chip demand and intense competition in the smartphone and consumer electronics spaces.

Samsung announced a 59% year-on-year jump in operating profit to 12.35 trillion Korean won (about $10.89 billion) for the July-September quarter, which was in line with earlier guidance.

“Looking ahead, Samsung Electronics expects profit to decline in the fourth quarter amid weakening memory chip demand from server customers and intensifying competition in mobile phones and consumer electronics,” the company said in a statement.

Sony Shares Pop on Strong Outlook

Shares of Sony surged in Tokyo on Thursday, a day after the Japanese electronics giant raised its annual profit forecast.

Sony shares in Japan were up 6.69% on Thursday even though Japan’s border index, the Nikkei 225, fell 0.37% on the day.,

On Wednesday, Sony raised its forecast for its annual operating income by 13% to 700 billion yen (approximately $6.7 billion). It came as the firm announced an operating profit of about 317.8 billion yen (around $3.04 billion) for the three months ended September 30.


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