LONDON (SHARECAST) - Shares in Japan marched modestly higher on Thursday with momentum provided by upbeat Chinese manufacturing data in a session otherwise dominated by disappointing earnings.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 18 points at 8,946 while the broader Topix index increased 0.1% to 743. The Hang Seng advanced 180 points at 21,821 in Hong Kong, the highest closing level in 2012.
Shares of Panasonic plunged 19% on Thursday on concern about the company's future after it posted a net loss of ¥765bn for the year to March 31st 2013 in the previous session. Sony fell 4% in sympathy.
Electrical good giant Sharp issued a profit warning and warned that it was finding it difficult to raise cash as losses widen.
The spotlight also turned to brokerage Nomura Holdings after the Tokyo Stock Exchange slapped the firm with a $2.5m fine for insider trading. It is Tokyo stock exchanges largest ever fine.
Chinese economic data however provided some cheer in an otherwise bleak earnings session. Manufacturing activity in China expanded for the first time in three months, official figures showed in the latest sign that growth in the world's second largest economy is returning.
Construction equipment makers rose sharply on the back of the data with shares of Komatsu rising 3.1% while Hitachi Construction soared 4.4%. Nippon Yusen bounced 4% in Tokyo on hopes that the Chinese economy is starting to recover.
Elsewhere TDK Corp tumbled 4.5% after it reduced its full year outlook amid poor global demand. Fujifilm buckled 4% as it also cut its earnings outlook for the year.
Softbank was among the gainers as it revealed a strong than expected set of quarterly results.
Among auto stocks Mazda Motor revved higher after it said it returned to profitability.
Chinese property firms were in demand in Hong Kong with shares of China Overseas Land adding 1.5% while China Resources Land tacked on 3%.