Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday, with overnight declines in oil prices and a weak lead from Wall Street weighing on markets ahead of the first meeting later this week between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Japanese shares hit ten-week lows as the dollar extended overnight losses, automakers reported weaker-than-expected U.S. sales and a drop in U.S. Treasury yields weighed on financial stocks such as banks and insurers.
The Nikkei average dropped 172.98 points or 0.91 percent to 18,810.25, the lowest level since Jan 24, while the broader Topix index closed 0.82 percent lower at 1,504.54.
Automakers Honda Motor, Toyota Motor, Mazda Motor and Nissan Motor fell 1-3 percent while Toshiba slumped 9.4 percent to extend recent losses amid reports that it needs further aid.
Among financial stocks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mizuho Financial, Dai-ichi Life Holdings and T&D Holdings declined 1-3 percent. J.Front Retailing fell nearly 3 percent after reporting a drop in March sales.
Australian shares fell slightly as consumer confidence data disappointed investors and the Reserve Bank left its monetary policy unchanged for a seventh straight meeting in a widely expected decision.
The February trade surplus came in much higher than expected, but an unusually sharp fall in imports revealed risks to economic growth.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slid 12.40 points or 0.21 percent to 5,858.70, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 13.90 points or 0.24 percent to finish at 5,895.80.
The big four banks fell between 0.3 percent and 0.9 percent while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto ended marginally lower. Oil stocks also closed broadly lower.
Gold miners Newcrest Mining, Evolution , Northern Star and Regis Resources rallied 3-5 percent as the yellow metal hit a one-week high on a weaker dollar amid geopolitical worries.
Adding to market jitters was a bomb blast in the St Petersburg metro system in Russia that killed at least 11 people and injured 45 more.
Whitehaven Coal soared as much as 4.8 percent as Australian thermal coal prices hit a four-month high, driven by a disruption to domestic exports.
South Korea’s Kospi average dropped 6.41 points or 0.30 percent to 2,161.10 on increased selling by foreigners and institutions.
Chipmaker SK Hynix lost 1.5 percent and automaker Hyundai Motor tumbled 2.9 percent, while market bellwether Samsung Electronics advanced 1.5 percent.
Statistics Korea figures showed that consumer inflation in South Korea pushed higher in March to hit an almost five-year high, signaling a rebound in domestic demand. The headline index rose 2.2 percent from a year earlier, up from 1.9 percent in February.
New Zealand shares rose as investors chased companies offering high dividend yields. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 19.53 points or 0.27 percent to 7,244.54, with Chorus and Meridian Energy pacing gainers.
Markets in China, Hong Kong, India and Taiwan were closed for public holidays. Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite index was rising 0.7 percent while Malaysian shares were marginally lower and Singapore’s Straits Times index was down 0.2 percent.
U.S. stocks began the second quarter on a lackluster note Monday, with a drop in bond yields as well as sluggish auto sales and manufacturing data weighing on markets.
The Dow slipped marginally, the S&P 500 shed 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.3 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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