In Asia Thursday Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dipped 0.2% to end the day at 10,431. Markets in Hong Kong and China were closed for Chinese New Year.
Investors eagerly awaiting earnings results for Japanese companies were disappointed today as many blue-chip firms missed estimates. Lower than expected numbers dragged share prices lower, as did the outbreak of violence in Egypt. About 600 protesters were injured and three were killed in Cairo's Tahrir Square, reports the BBC. This unfortunate turn of events could further destabilize the Middle East, possibly spreading to other oil-producing countries. A manager at Tokyo's T&D Asset Management told Bloomberg that if that happens,"The price of crude will rise further and inflation will accelerate, boosting concerns about the economic future of emerging countries,"
Japanese electronics and office equipment maker Ricoh plunged 9.9% after reporting lower-than-expected earnings. Panasonic was also hard hit, with income falling short of analyst's expectations. Sales in Panasonic's plasma televisions have fallen about 13% this quarter and Bloomberg reports that demand has dwindled for the company's memory chips that are usually used in cameras and computers
Konami, the gaming company that sells video games like Pro Evoloution Soccer 2011 as well as casino slot machines, slumped 7.8% after posting a huge drop in income and falling sales. Meanwhile, Sony, maker of the PS3, jumped 1.7% and Wii maker Nintendo inched up 0.2%.
Car companies took a tumble today with Mazda diving 2.5%, Honda slumping 1.5% and Toyota losing 1.2%. Fuji Heavy, maker of Boeing jet engines and Subarus lost 0.9% while NTN, a maker of machinery components including parts for car engines, plummeted 3.5%.
Other big losers in Tokyo included financial firms. Mizuho Financial dropped 2.4%, Mitsubishi UFJ retreated 1.8% and Sumitomo Mitsui lost 1.2%. Credit and loan company Credit Saison tumbled 1.8% on reports that the company's operating profits for the last three quarters were down 45% as compared to numbers from last year. Chuo Mitsui Trust followed the sector lower losing 1.2%. Some banks countered the losses, like Shinsei Bank, which surged 2%, but Bank of Japan plunged 1.7%.
There were some bright spots. Alps Electric reversed course after heading precipitously downward earlier this week -- today shares shot up 5%. Fast Retailing clocked up a 3.8% gain on rising sales in Japanese shops. The company has another winner this year with its affordable line of Heatthech thermal underwear sold in its colorful Uniqlo stores. Japan Today reports sales at Japanese Uniqlo outlets were up 10.7% in January. The brand has acquired quite a following, with fans posting comments like "Love love love uniqlo!!!" on the company's Facebook page. Score another one for exported Japanese trends.