Asia stocks rise as Apple result lifts tech sector

Asian stock markets mostly posted mild gains Wednesday after better-than-expected earnings from technology bellwether Apple nudged Wall Street higher.

Oil prices, meanwhile, traded below $78 a barrel after a report showed U.S. crude supplies fell less than expected last week, suggesting demand for fuel is still tepid.

Gainers in Asian markets included tech stocks, which climbed after Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc. blew past expectations with its latest quarterly report Tuesday. The company’s net income rose 78 percent to $3.25 billion and revenue for the April-to-June period rose 61 percent to a record high of $15.7 billion.

Apple’s result helped offset some of the gloom generated by mixed economic figures and other corporate results this week which disappointed investors. Goldman Sachs posted an 83 percent plunge in second quarter net income while Yahoo and IBM both reported revenue short of expectations.

Apple’s results “brought some positive sentiment to all the technology stocks,” said Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.

But others cautioned Apple’s results should be seen as specific to the company and urged caution about growth prospects for the technology sector as a whole.

There are “quite muted” expectations for personal computer demand in the United States and Europe, said Mark Tan, who helps manage about $10.9 billion of equities and bonds at UOB Asset Management in Singapore.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average gave up early gains to fall 61.33 points, or 0.7 percent, to 9,239.13 and has lost about 5 percent in the past three sessions.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.5 percent at 20,362.00, South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4 percent to 1,744.26 and Australia’s benchmark rose 0.2 percent to 4,410.10.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index was little changed after big gains in the previous two sessions amid expectations that Chinese authorities are likely to moderate efforts to cool the world’s No. 3 economy.

“A lot of global demand now centers on Chinese demand,” said UOB’s Tan. “There has been the expectation that the government is not going to implement any more tightening measures the rest of the year.”

Elsewhere, markets in India, Taiwan and Indonesia rose while benchmarks in Singapore and Thailand were moderately lower.

Among technology stocks, Nintendo Co. rose 1.2 percent in Tokyo and Samsung Electronics Co. advanced 1.5 percent in Seoul.

In Australia, miner BHP Billiton Ltd. was up 1.2 percent after reporting iron ore production rose 16 percent in the April-June quarter.

The Dow Jones industrials rose 0.7 percent to 10,229.96 in an erratic day of trading Tuesday.

The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.1 percent to 1,083.48, and the Nasdaq composite index climbed 1.1 percent to 2,222.49.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 87.08 from 87.32 yen in New York late Tuesday. The euro eased to $1.2882 from $1.2892.

Benchmark crude for September delivery was down 7 cents to $77.51 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 68 cents to settle at $77.58 on Tuesday.

Associated Press