Stocks in Asia Waver on Disappointing Earnings

Asian markets wavered on Friday, after U.S. stocks were dented overnight by a report that the special counsel investigation into Trump and his campaign was intensifying.

The Nikkei 225 fell back 76.93 points, or 0.4%, to 19,952.33

The Hang Seng Index recovered 31.67 points, or 0.1%, to 27,562.68

In Japan, Suzuki shares jumped 8.7% to close at 5,636 yen. Nomura said the company's fiscal first-quarter earnings were a "positive surprise" for the second straight quarter, with operating profit up 44% on-year at 85.1 billion yen, compared with a consensus forecast for 69.0 billion yen.

Nomura raised its target price to 6,400 yen from 5,600 yen and kept a "buy" call, noting the automaker was well ahead of rivals in the Indian market and that margins had improved sharply in Europe, Southeast Asia and Japan.

Among other Japanese automakers, Mazda shares climbed 2.8% and Toyota shares slipped 0.1%. Toyota Motor and Mazda were expected to announce plans for a tie-up to build a $1.6-billion assembly plant in the U.S.

The safe-haven Japanese yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar, with the pair trading as low as 109.82, compared with levels above 111.0 reached in the previous week. Late afternoon local time, the pair was at 110.07

Australian stocks were weighed by the heavily-weighted financial subindex dropping 1.1%

Commonwealth Bank shares dropped 3.9%

The Australian government's financial intelligence and regulatory agency on Thursday alleged the bank breached money laundering laws by allowing its Intelligent Deposit Machines to accept thousands of large cash deposits without monitoring user identities, even when deposits exceeded 10,000 Australian dollars, the threshold for reporting the transaction to regulators.

The complaint said there may have been more than 50,000 breaches of the money-laundering regulations.

In a statement, CBA, Australia's largest bank, said it was reviewing the claim and would file a statement of defense.

Among other major banking stocks, ANZ fell 0.3% Westpac was off by 0.5% and the National Australia Bank edged up 0.2%.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar dropped as low as $0.7930 from about $0.7955 after the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) statement on monetary policy. But the Aussie dollar quickly bounced back, trading at $0.7976 late afternoon.

The statement indicated that, while the central bank had turned more confident on economic growth ahead, it didn't expect unemployment or wage growth to improve much.

The RBA also jawboned on the recent strength of the Aussie dollar, warning it could dampen growth and inflation.

Earlier in the week, the RBA kept its cash rate unchanged at 1.5% and Governor Philip Lowe said the central bank's forecasts for the Australian economy are "largely unchanged."

In Australia, shares of Sims Metal tumbled 12.5% after the company said its fiscal full-year underlying earnings before interest and tax would come in between A$180 million and A$185 million and that its CEO and CFO would both be stepping down.

Citi said in a note on Thursday that the earnings guidance was in line with its forecast for A$184 million, but that the top management departures were "surprising and unexplained," adding that it was "of concern to us." It noted that no conference call was scheduled to explain the move.

Shares of developer Lendlease closed up 1.1%. The developer said in an ASX announcement that it had inadvertently published its unaudited full-year results, which weren't due until August 28.

The report said that the company's fiscal 2017 profit after tax rose around 8.7% on-year, with the dividend set to rise around 10% to 66 Australian cents.

In Singapore, shares of DBS dropped 2.3%. The city-state's largest bank said its second-quarter net profit rose 8.5% to 1.14 billion Singaporean dollars ($840 million U.S.) as strong loan growth offset a drop in its net interest margin, noting that it was slightly below forecasts for S$1.15 billion.

Shares of Capitaland climbed 2.7%, bucking a 0.3% decline in the benchmark Straits Times Index. In a note on Friday, analysts at DBS said the Singapore-based property developer posted robust second-quarter earnings, which nearly doubled on-year, beating expectations, amid a boost from divestments and stable recurring income.

Hong Kong-listed developer Cheung Kong Property also climbed, rising 4.2%, after its first-half core profit beat expectations.
Shares of Brilliance China climbed 9.1%

UOB KayHian upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold" and raised its target to HK$28.00 from HK$15.00, pointing to the potential for higher margins at its 50%-owned joint-venture BMW Brilliance and a stronger-than-expected response to the new 5-series.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia, has impaneled a grand jury in Washington, which, the newspaper reported, means the probe is intensifying and could stretch "for months."

In other markets

The CSI 300 dropped 20.25 points, or 0.5%, to 3,707.58

In Taiwan, the Taiex index regained 36.68 points, or 0.4%, to 10,506.56

In Korea, the Kospi index increased 8.6 points, or 0.4%, to 2,395.45

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index retreated 16.4 points, or 0.5%, to 3,326.52

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 lost 7.63 points, or 0.1%, to 7,746.12

In Australia, the ASX 200 declined 14.54 points, or 0.3%, to 5,720.58