Asian shares down, Apple results weigh, China data eyed

Asian shares

Asian shares fell on Thursday as investors were cautious ahead of manufacturing data from China, while a sharp slide in Apple Inc shares following its earnings report also capped demand.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.2 percent. The pan-Asian index's technology sector led the decline with a 0.6 percent slip.

U.S. and European stocks rose on Wednesday on solid earnings from IBM and Google, but Apple, the world's largest technology company, reported quarterly revenue that slightly missed Wall Street expectations as sales of its flagship iPhone came in below target, sending its shares down more than 10 percent in after-hours trading.

Apple's component suppliers such as Japan's Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd and South Korea's LG Display fell 1.4 percent and 2.4 percent respectively.

Asian markets were also focused on the HSBC China PMI data due at 0145 GMT. Confirmation of a recovery in manufacturing growth in China is likely to improve risk appetite and support wide-ranging markets, from commodities to currencies linked to commodities.

"By most measures, the Chinese economy is on a positive path, and there is no reason to believe that the momentum being seen recently is ready to reverse. Watch for a continuation of improvement for this value today with a result above last month's result of 51.5," said Neal Gilbert, market strategist at GFT Forex, in a note to clients.

Australian shares were choppy ahead of the data from China, Australia's largest export market. South Korean shares slipped 0.6 percent.

The benchmark Nikkei average opened down 0.4 percent after falling to a three-week closing low on Tuesday, as investors booked profits from the market's recent rally that was driven by a weak yen.

Yen buying slowed, although the currency remained steady after the Bank of Japan's latest policy easing steps on Tuesday failed to provide immediate stimulus as expected by some investors. The BOJ pledged to achieve a 2 percent inflation target and promised to start open-ended asset buying from 2014.

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