HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan edged lower on Thursday, as a decline in Chinese mainland banks offset positive Wall Street cues and robust China manufacturing data.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 0.1% to 1,299.84. All the four Chinese banks that reported earnings on late Wednesday declined, despite their profits beating estimates. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) fell by at least 2.3% each, and Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) declined 1.3%. ICBC reported a 1.8% rise in net profit for the six months ended June 30, while CCB and ABC said net profit increased by 3.7% and 3.3% respectively. Bank of China (BOC) dropped 0.2% even as its first-half net profit rose by 11%.
The lenders fell in spite of their upbeat earnings probably because the market had already factored in the financial performance, and investors opted to book profits on these stocks, traders said. ICBC, CCB and BOC had all gained at least 7.5% this month through Wednesday.
The fall in Chinese banks overshadowed a better-than-expected factory activity data out of Asia's largest economy. The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 51.7 in August from 51.4 in July, beating expectations. Services PMI came in at 53.4 against July's 54.5.
The overnight rally in U.S. stocks following better-than-expected U.S. second-quarter GDP data also lent some support to the index, but was not enough to overcome the fall in heavyweight mainland lenders.
Casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group rose 0.6% in Hong Kong after reporting an 81% jump in first-half net profit.
Fosun International, a conglomerate with interests ranging from insurance to healthcare, jumped 7.4% after posting a nearly 34% increase in its first-half profit.
The H-shares of Tsingtao Brewery slid 2.7%. The beer maker, which reported a 7.4% increase in first-half profit, said higher raw material prices as well as logistics and labor costs caused "a significant pressure" on rising operation costs.
China Mengniu Dairy advanced 5.4% in Hong Kong after reporting a 4.7% gain in first-half net profit. The company said it expects improved growth in China's dairy product industry.
The H-shares Shanghai Electric Group advanced 4.1% following a 9.6% increase in first-half net profit.
Kia Motors slipped 3.5% in Seoul. Reuters reported that a court in South Korea ruled against the carmaker, ordering it to pay 420 billion won ($374 million) in unpaid wages.
Samsung Electronics advanced 0.3% after its U.S. unit on Wednesday introduced three new devices to its wearable portfolio - Gear Sport, Gear Fit2 Pro and Gear IconX.
In country indices complied by Nikkei, China declined 0.5% while South Korea dropped by 0.2%. The Hong Kong gauge added 0.7% and India gained 0.4%. Taiwan rose 0.1%.
The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies declined 0.2%.
--Nimesh Vora and V. Phani Kumar