TOKYO (AP) -- Asian stocks dipped Thursday as investors prepared for a slew of earnings reports in coming days that will give a reading of how confident companies are in the outlook for major economies. Improved German business confidence boosted European markets.
China's weak manufacturing figures from Wednesday continued to weigh on sentiment in Asia. China's slowdown is in large part self-induced. Its leaders are trying to shift the basis of China's growth away from reliance on exports and industrial investment in favor of consumption which they hope will be more self-sustaining. That means large stimulus is unlikely.
As for earnings, investors regarded quarterly reports released so far in the U.S. as mixed and are taking a wait-and-see attitude as Japan's big corporations begin to announce results this week, said Masahiro Yamaguchi at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo.
Besides Caterpillar, earnings from AT&T disappointed, though reports from Boeing Co., Apple and Ford Motor Co. were better than expected.
Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average shed 1.1 percent to 14,562.93 with camera-maker Canon plunging 5.4 percent after it lowered its full year profit and sales outlook Wednesday.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent to 21,900.96 and China's Shanghai Composite dropped 0.6 percent to 2,021.17. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged.
European markets climbed into positive territory after a closely watched index of German business optimism rose slightly more than expected in July.
Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 0.4 percent to 6,620.43 and France's CAC 40 gained 1 percent to 3,962.75. Germany's DAX was up 0.8 percent at 8,379.11.
The Ifo institute's business climate index rose to 106.2 from 105.9 in June. The third monthly increase in a row provides more evidence Germany remains on track to rebound from a lackluster performance in the last months of 2012 and the first quarter of this year.
The Germany economy, the largest in the 17-country euro currency union, will be a key factor as Europe struggles to get out of a recession that has lasted six straight quarters.
Futures augured a weak session on Wall Street with Dow and S&P 500 futures both down 0.3 percent.
In energy trading, benchmark crude was down 31 cents at $105.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The euro fell to $1.3186 from $1.3193 late Wednesday. The dollar fell to 100.01 yen from 100.33 yen.