Asian share markets eked out gains on Thursday as dovish comments from the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve combined with an upbeat economic assessment from the central bank to lift Wall Street for a third straight session. However, disappointing results from Google and IBM knocked their shares lower after the bell and could crimp technology stocks in the region. Indeed, the tech and telecoms sectors in Japan's Nikkei were in the red on Thursday, nudging the overall index down 0.2 percent following a 3 percent jump the previous session. Other markets fared better with shares in Australia up 0.5 percent and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan adding 0.33 percent.
Google Inc's first-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street targets and margins narrowed as the price of its ads continued to decline, underscoring the challenges Internet companies face as the world shifts toward mobile devices. Shares of Google were down 3 percent to $539.80 in afterhours trading on Wednesday, after initially sliding roughly 6 percent on the news. The number of "paid clicks" by consumers on Google's ads increased by 26 percent in the first quarter, disappointing some analysts who had hoped for stronger volume growth. And the average "cost per click" declined 9 percent, extending a downward trend as mobile advertising, typically cheaper than traditional online ads, make up a bigger slice of its business.
Revenue from the hardware business, which includes servers and systems storage, plunged 23 percent to $2.4 billion. IBM has been restructuring its business, with job reductions and the sale of its low-end server business to Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group Ltd for $2.3 billion in January, in efforts to achieve its targeted operating earnings of $20 per share by 2015. IBM warned that its hardware business may continue to face hurdles. "As we look to the balance of 2014, we continue to expect good performance in the key growth areas, though our overall revenue growth will be impacted by the challenges in our hardware business," Chief Financial Officer Martin Schroeter said on a conference call.