Asian markets cautious ahead of major corporate earnings

HONG KONG (AFP/APP): Stocks were generally lower in Asian trade on Tuesday as investors move cautiously ahead of a deluge of corporate results later in the week.

Tokyo stocks were trading down with profit-taking before 10 days of holidays in Japan weighing on the market. With many markets opening after an extended Easter break, Hong Kong Shanghai, Taiwan, Singapore were all down, while Australia and Seoul were trading up.

“Some of the world’s biggest technology companies are reporting earnings this week as well as a raft of the big European banks,” Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities Australia, said in a note to clients.

“Investors will be hoping for some better-than-expected results from both groups to keep the topside momentum in global equities, however if the data starts to show a significant slowing across these key industries then expect both stocks and risk trades to start to come under some heavy pressure.”

Major earnings releases expected this week include Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil and auto maker Tesla.

Aerospace giant Boeing will report earnings on Wednesday for the first time since a deadly March 10 plane crash plunged the company into crisis-mode.

Financial analysts have already slashed their 2019 profit forecasts after Boeing announced earlier in April it was cutting its monthly production of the 737 by about 20 percent. Lower plane deliveries directly affect revenues.

Traders are also looking ahead to the first-quarter gross GDP data due Friday in the US.

While equity traders were cautious, oil prices continued a rally Tuesday after jumping to near six-month highs after the US cracked down on Iranian oil exports, announcing it would no longer grant waivers from US sanctions.

The White House announced it was calling an end to six-month waivers that had exempted countries from unilateral US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

Starting in May, these countries — China, India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece — would face sanctions if they continue to buy the oil.