HONG KONG: Asian markets sank on 28 March, hurt by a drop on Wall Street and lingering concerns about the US economy, although Chinese stocks climbed to their sixth record in a row.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed 110.32 points, or 0.64 %, to finish at 17,254.73 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Traders said investors locked in profits in the absence of fresh market-moving news, ahead of US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony and the Commerce Department’s report on February durable goods orders.
Investors across Asia pay close attention to signals about the US economy, a major export market. Worries that weakness in the nation’s housing market will crimp US consumer demand weighed on sentiment.
Japanese steel, real estate developers and banking issues were the major losers.
Kobe Steel Ltd. fell by 2.21 % to 486 yen (US$4.15). Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. off by 1.11 % to 4,470 yen (US$38.21) and Resona Holdings Inc. slipped by 0.95 % to 314,000 yen (US$2,683.76).
In Hong Kong, the blue chip Hang Seng Index fell by 152.92 points, or 0.8%, to 19,553.87.
Uncertainties over the US economy will remain an overhang in the short-term, with Bernanke’s testimony on Capitol Hill overnight in focus, traders said, but the downside will be limited by end-quarter window-dressing by funds.
Blue chips with US exposure took a hit after the release of weak US home prices data and a survey that suggested consumer confidence in the US economy is beginning to erode.
Global banking giant and index heavyweight HSBC ended 1.1 % lower at HK$135.50.
Consumer goods exporter Li & Fung, which sources goods for US retailers, fell by 2.4 % to HK$24.90.
Hutchison Telecommunications International also tumbled by 4.4 % to HK$14.76 after a report that said the country’s income tax department demanded the company pay capital gains tax of US$1.9 billion (euro1.43 billion) on the profits it is making by selling a controlling stake in Indian operation Hutchison Essar to Vodafone
In currency trading, the US dollar was trading at 117.40 yen late Wednesday, down from 117.95 yen late Tuesday in New York. The euro fell to US$1.3335 from US$1.3344.
BANGKOK: Thailand’s share closed lower in moderate trade as funds dump blue chips taking cue from regional slide. The Stock Exchange of Thailand’s SET index lost 9.53 points, or 1.4 %, to 669.04.
JAKARTA: Indonesian shares fell, led by selling in car distributor Astra and nickel miner Inco. The Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite index closed 19.268 points, or 1 %, down to 1,800.392.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s shares ended lower with the Composite Index of 100 blue chips losing 11.93 points, or 0.96 %, to 1,235.24.
MANILA: Philippine shares slipped taking a cue from Wall Street, and as Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. dropped. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index dropped 11.94 points, or 0.4 %, at 3,162.81.
MUMBAI: Indian shares fell, in line with weak global markets, dragged by technology stocks which fell over concerns the rupee’s appreciation against the US dollar will hurt operating margins. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock Sensitive Index, or Sensex, lost 239.98 points, or 1.83 % to 12,884.34.
SEOUL: South Korean shares fell on declines in brokerage and petrochemical stocks. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, fell by 13.49 points, or 0.9 %, to 1439.74.
SHANGHAI: Shanghai’s benchmark index surged to its sixth new record high in a row as heavy buying of banks erased early losses from profit-taking. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.1 % to 3,173.02. But the Shenzhen Composite Index fell by 0.7 % to 835.75.
SINGAPORE: Singapore shares fell amid nervousness about oil prices and declines on Wall Street overnight. The Straits Times Index fell by 32.4 points, or 1 %, to end at 3,201.8.
SYDNEY: Australian stocks slipped with major banks and miners dragging the bourse into the red. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 41 points, or 0.7 % lower at 5,923.2.
TAIPEI: Taiwan shares fell, hurt by a weak overnight performance on Wall Street. The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange fell by 57.03 points, or 0.7 %, to close at 7,788.14.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand stocks ended weaker, steered by a more negative lead from offshore markets. The benchmark NZX-50 index fell 17.41 points, or 0.4 %, to 4,109.87.