Asian markets edge down as tech shares mirror US declines

Asian markets tracked lower on Thursday as oil prices firmed after falling in the last session. Meanwhile, technology stocks in the region declined after U.S. shares in the sector sold off on Wednesday. Investors in the region also digested the better-than-expected official manufacturing PMI data out of China.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1 percent as major tech names traded lower. Sony fell 2.01 percent and Nintendo was 2.62 percent lower. Financials, trading houses and automakers, however, mostly notched gains.

In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi index declined 0.74 percent, but was trading off session lows after the Bank of Korea’s raised interest rates for the first time in six years. The central bank increased rates to 1.5 percent from 1.25 percent in a move that had been widely expected by markets.

“The markets are priced for today’s move, so the impact is expected to be muted,” Prakash Sakpal, Asia economist at ING, said in a note.

Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, the two-largest names on the index, fell 3.42 percent and 6.43 percent, respectively, with the tech sector the worst-performing sector on the day.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.57 percent, with losses in materials, technology and banking stocks dragging the index lower. Australian financial stocks mostly edged down after the government said it would launch an inquiry into the sector. Top executives from the country’s so-called “Big Four” had earlier sent a joint letter to Treasurer Scott Morrison calling for “a properly constituted inquiry” into sector in a bid to “restore trust.” Commonwealth Bank was down 1.95 percent and ANZ fell 0.83 percent.

Mainland China markets were slightly lower, with the Shanghai Composite edging down 0.26 percent and the Shenzhen Composite off 0.19 percent.

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 51.8 for November, above the 51.4 forecast by economists in a Reuters survey. The services sector PMI reading came it at 54.8, compared to the 54.3 seen last month.

Tech was also the worst-performing sector on the Hang Seng Index, which fell 1.28 percent, following the slide in U.S. tech stocks on Wednesday. Tencent dropped 2.33 percent and Meitu was 0.36 percent lower. Property and casino stocks also declined.

Philippine markets are closed for Bonifacio Day. Markets in Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates will also be closed.

The New Zealand dollar was in focus after the currency fell more than 0.5 percent after an ANZ survey showed business confidence in the country had fallen to its lowest levels since 2009. The Kiwi dollar traded at $0.6845 at 12:44 p.m. HK/SIN, compared to Wednesday’s close of $0.6878.

The pound hit a two-month high as negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union made progress. Sterling traded at $1.3466 after rising as high as $1.3479 earlier in the session.

Meanwhile, the dollar softened slightly against a basket of currencies. The dollar index stood at 93.156 at 12:43 p.m. HK/SIN, a touch below Wednesday’s close of 93.257. The greenback held onto overnight gains made against the yen to trade at 111.99.

Tech stocks sold off stateside on Wednesday as financials rose. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high as investors focused on momentum in the U.S. economy. The second estimate for third-quarter GDP was revised to 3.3 percent from 3 percent. It was also above the 3.2 percent expected by markets.

The Dow rose 103.97 points, or 0.44 percent, to close at 23,940.68. The Nasdaq composite underperformed other major U.S. indexes, falling 1.27 percent as popular tech names recorded significant declines.

Yields on U.S. Treasurys moved higher as investors took note of better-than-expected GDP numbers and outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks on the outlook for the U.S. economy. Yellen also said on Wednesday that she was “very worried” about the U.S. public debt trajectory.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate tacked on 0.24 percent to trade at $57.44 per barrel after settling 1.2 percent lower in the last session. Brent crude advanced 0.51 percent to trade at $63.43.

Oil prices had been volatile in the lead-up to a highly-anticipated meeting among major oil producers on Thursday. Markets expect an agreement between oil producers to be extended, but some are concerned about Russia’s commitment to extend those cuts. The existing output agreement, which includes OPEC and Russia, will expire in March next year.

Japan’s Oriental Land, which operates Tokyo Disney Resort, intends to grow the theme park to attract tourists, according to Nikkei. The company reportedly has plans to spend 300 billion yen ($2.68 billion) on the expansion. Shares of the company rose 3.35 percent following the news.

Source: CNBC

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