Asian shares mixed after weak US earnings

<p>Weak US earnings sparked fears over the health of the world’s largest economy.</p>

Asian stocks ended mixed today (May 1st) in thin trading, led by a lower session on Wall Street overnight after the release of weak US earnings. Investors also reacted to a string of economic data from the US and China. Trading volumes were light as most markets in the region are closed for the Labor Day holiday.

Companies in the S&P 500 are forecast to report average growth in earnings per share of just 0.6 per cent for the first quarter, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. That compares with a growth rate of 7.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014.The weak US earnings and a weak first quarter growth sparked fears over the health of the world's largest economy.

China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) held steady at 50.1 in April, while the official services PMI fell to 53.4, from 53.7 in the previous month.

Japan's Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1 per cent at 19,531.63 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4 per cent to 5,814.40. New Zealand's benchmark gained 0.1 per cent to 6,205.13.

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