TOKYO — Asian shares skidded Tuesday following Wall Street’s biggest loss in more than four months. Japan’s benchmark languished as the yen firmed against the U.S. dollar.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 1.4 per cent to 23,291.97 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.1 per cent to 32,601.62. South Korea’s Kospi sank 1.1 per cent to 2,567.74. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.8 per cent to 3,495.05 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gave up 0.9 per cent to 6,022.80. India’s Sensex lost 0.6 per cent to 36,067.22. Shares also were lower in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia.
WALL STREET: The sell-off was led by technology stocks, the biggest gainers in 2017, which accounted for much of the slide. Energy companies also fell as crude oil prices finished lower. Utilities and other rate-sensitive sectors declined as bond yields hit their highest level in almost four years. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.7 per cent to 2,853.53 and the Dow Jones industrial average also dropped 0.7 per cent, to 26,439.48. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.5 per cent, to 7,466.51. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 0.6 per cent to 1,598.11. Losers outnumbered gainers almost five-to-one on the New York Stock Exchange.
TRUMP: Also on investors’ radar: Tuesday night’s State of the Union address by President Donald Trump, and a two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve’s policymaking committee that wraps up Wednesday. “This is one of the few prepared speeches that the president will give, so the progress on NAFTA and trade with China is something the market is going to watch carefully,” said Mike Baele, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.
JAPAN: Data for December released Tuesday showed the jobless rate rising to a still low 2.8 per cent and retail sales coming in stronger than expected. But household spending and willingness to spend fell, underscoring the need for wage increases during the annual spring labour negotiations that are underway.
ANALYST’S VIEWPOINT: “Asian markets are set to see further pullback in the day, caught in the crosswind of the overnight action. In particular, the performance of Apple Inc.’s regional supply chain is expected to come into focus as reports of a production reduction to the company’s leading iPhone X floated to the market,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 71 cents to $64.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 58 cents, or about 1 per cent, to settle at $65.56 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 52 cents to $68.68 a barrel. It fell $1.06, or 1.5 per cent, to close at $69.46 per barrel on Monday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar, which fell sharply last week, declined to 108.69 yen from 108.96 yen late Monday. The euro fell to $1.2360 from $1.2383.
BITCOIN: The price of bitcoin fell 1.5 per cent Monday to $10,987.84 , according to the tracking site CoinDesk. Bitcoin futures on the Cboe Futures Exchange fell 2.5 per cent to $10,920.