Asian markets down as Nikkei falls sharply
Asia markets fell sharply almost across the board on Wednesday as the main index in Japan lost nearly 2 per cent. The session in Asia followed overnight declines in US stocks, where the S&P 500 posted its first three-day losing streak since August.
Japan›s Nikkei 225 dropped 445.34 points, or 1.97 per cent, to 22,177.04. The Topix index declined 25.55 points, or 1.43 per cent, to 1,765.42. Reuters reported that the Nikkei had its biggest per centage drop since late march.
Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi slipped 35.75 points, or 1.42 per cent, to 2,474.37.
Australia›s ASX 200 closed down 26.11 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 5,945.7 as the materials and energy sectors fell 1.66 per cent and 1.57 per cent, respectively.
Major miners closed lower: Shares of Rio Tinto fell 2.47 per cent, Fortescue Metal was down 1.29 per cent and BHP lost 1.98 per cent. Other miners also fell, with South32 shares sliding 4.14 per cent.
Also of note for traders: Copper futures in Shanghai fell 3.1 per cent in afternoon trade, tracking declines in London prices — in the early hours of the Asian trading day, copper prices in London were down some 4.31 per cent. Some traders attributed the decline to profit taking in the market.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index retraced some of its earlier losses but still traded down by 1.7 per cent as of 3:23 p.m. HK/SIN. Chinese mainland markets reversed some of their losses to close mixed. The Shanghai composite fell 9.54 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 3,294.12 and the Shenzhen composite advanced 12.66 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 1,879.65.
"Risk appetite continued to wane into mid-week, with major Wall Street indices shedding more gains," analysts at Singapore's OCBC Bank wrote in a morning note. "For now ... market-watchers appear to remain cautious in view of further uncertainties over the outcome of the Brexit talks and Friday's potential partial US Government shutdown should negotiations fail."
Shares of Samsung Heavy Industries plunged and finish a whopping 28.89 per cent lower. The company had said it was planning a 1.5 trillion Korean won ($1.38 billion) rights offering by May 2018, according to Reuters. The rights issue was aimed at improving the company's financial structure and to allocate new shares to existing shareholders, the wire service reported. Reuters also reported that the company said in a regulatory filing that it expected an operating loss of 240 billion won ($220 million) next year, from a loss of 490 billion this year. In the currency market, the dollar traded at 93.273 against a basket of other currencies as of 3:26 p.m. HK/SIN. The greenback climbed from levels below 92.700 reached late last week, but it was off from an overnight high of 93.488.
Some attributed the dollar's moves to developments in the US which could see President Donald Trump's administration potentially sealing its first major legislative win.
Markets are closely tracking the progress made by US lawmakers to pass a bill that will overhaul the American tax system. Over the weekend, the Senate narrowly passed its version of the plan.
Now House and Senate lawmakers have to hash out differences and agree on a final bill to send to Trump.
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