Stock markets in Australia, India, New Zealand and Singapore hit record highs Wednesday, but Japanese shares were dragged down by electronic and technology stocks.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 114.54 points, or 0.66 %, to finish at 17,292.32, the lowest since 17 January .
“This is an opportunity to hunt for bargains amid a weak tone in the overall market,” Mizuho Investors Securities’ manager Teruhisa Ishikawa said.
Traders said many investors were awaiting market-moving events, including Japanese machinery orders for December, due Friday, and the weekend meeting of Group of Seven financial leaders in Germany.
Prices sagged as blue chip issues slumped, with steel and high technology issues leading the losses.
Advantest Corp. plunged 4.05 % to 5,450 yen ($45.42) on concerns about near-term orders for its chip-making equipment. Canon Inc. shed 1.77 % to 6,120 yen ($51).
Retailers and pbanking stocks also dropped, with Isetan Co. sinking 6.37 % to 2,130 yen ($17.75) and Resona Holdings Inc. falling 0.90 % to 329,000 yen ($2,741.67).
In Hong Kong, the blue-chip Hang Seng Index rose 24.49 points, or 0.1 %, to 20,679.69.
Shares were lifted by rebounds in China-related firms, particularly banks, after they fell in the last month.
Bank of China surged 1.6 % to HK$3.92 after losing 10.6 % in the month to Tuesday’s close, while China Construction Bank leaped 4.1 % to HK$4.82 after sliding 8.5 % in the same period.
“It’s purely rotational buying. These stocks regained investors’ interest, tracking the rise in the Shanghai index,” said Peter Lai, a director of DBS Vickers.
Insurers were also among the gainers. Chinese insurer PICC Property & Casualty Co. jumped 5.4 % to HK$4.72, while Ping An Insurance gained 3.7 % to HK$37.80.
Traders expect the Hang Seng Index to trade between 20,300 and 20,700 in the near term, adding it is unlikely to test its high of 20,971 as investors are concerned Beijing may introduce measures to cool down the robt mainland equities markets.
In currencies, the dollar bought 120.46 yen late Wednesday, up from 120.08 yen late Tuesday in New York. The euro rose to $1.2992 from $1.2978.
BANGKOK: Thai shares rose 0.3 % to close at 675.33, on scattered gains in blue chips amid thin trade.
JAKARTA: Indonesian shares ended 0.2 % higher at 1,764.91, helped by news that the central bank cut interest rates Tuesday.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shares gained, led by foreign funds’ buying into banking, construction, plantation stocks and select heavyweights. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index added 0.6 % to 1,243.57.
MANILA: Philippine shares slid for the second straight session as investors locked in recent gains. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 39.58 points, or 1.2 %, at 3,232.39.
MUMBAI: Indian shares ended at a record high, cheered by a government forecast of 9.2 % economic growth for the current financial year, the fastest pace in 18 years. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock Sensitive Index, or Sensex, rose 164.94 points, or 1.1 %, to end at 14,643.13.
SEOUL: South Korean shares fell, snapping a four-day rally, led by losses in banks and shipbuilders. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 2.29 points, or 0.2 %, to 1,426.29.
SHANGHAI: Chinese stocks surged on renewed buying of banks and other index heavyweights by institutional investors. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.5 % to 2,716.18. The Shenzhen Composite Index jumped 1.9 % to 666.96.
SINGAPORE: Singapore’s shares rose to a new record high, led by property and banking stocks. The benchmark Straits Times Index gained 13.35 points, or 0.4 %, to close at 3,236.6.
SYDNEY: Australian shares hit record highs, buoyed by a strong performance from the world’s largest miner, BHP Billiton. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 29.3 points, or 0.5 %, to 5,899.8.
TAIPEI: Taiwan shares fell slightly on profit-taking in the tourism sector. The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange dropped 25.69 points, or 0.3 %, to 7,850.06.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand stocks closed at a record high, spurred by bellwether Telecom Corp. which recovered some recent losses in a positive market. The benchmark NZX-50 index surged 63.03 points, or 1.5 %, to 4,211.61.