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Asian stocks edge lower amid weak earnings, economic uncertainty

Investing.com -- Most Asian stocks fell further on Thursday, coming under pressure from a round of weak regional earnings, while concerns over slowing economic growth and a potential U.S. banking crisis eroded sentiment.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3%, bogged down by steep losses in brokerage Nomura Holdings and semiconductor testing equipment maker Advantest Corp (TYO:6857).

Nomura fell 7% after its quarterly profit plummeted 76%, as concerns over a banking crisis and slowing growth battered the firm’s investment banking unit. The firm also saw increased costs due to a weaker yen and higher inflation at home.

Advantest slumped nearly 11%, and was the worst performer on the Nikkei after it forecast a sharp drop in quarterly profit due to waning chip demand.

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Weak chip demand also saw South Korean giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930) log a 96% drop in its first-quarter profit, with the firm’s semiconductor unit posting a record loss. But Samsung also forecast a demand recovery in the second half of the year, which helped its shares recover from early losses.

The South Korean KOSPI index was trading flat.

Broader Asian markets moved in a flat-to-low range, taking a similar lead-in from Wall Street as renewed fears of a banking crisis largely offset strong earnings from U.S. technology heavyweights.

Shares of First Republic Bank (NYSE:FRC) continued to plummet after the firm flagged a severe drop in its deposits, which analysts warn could spell weakness for the broader banking sector.

Weak economic readings from China also weighed on sentiment, as Asia’s largest economy logged a substantially bigger-than-expected decline in industrial profits for the first three months of the year.

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes rose 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively, recovering slightly after tumbling for the past six sessions. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was flat.

India’s Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes also traded sideways in early trade, while Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.4%, with major banking and mining stocks under pressure.

Focus is now on key U.S. GDP data due later in the day, which is expected to provide more cues on a potential recession in the world’s largest economy. Markets are also awaiting a reading on the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge, ahead of a hotly anticipated interest rate hike next week.

A Bank of Japan meeting is also due on Friday, although the central bank has telegraphed that it will leave its ultra-loose policy unchanged.

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