HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets mostly fell Friday as traders followed heavy losses on Wall Street, while the dollar bounced back against the yen after tumbling in New York.
Tokyo sank 0.88 per cent, or 144.28 points, to 16,229.86, while Sydney dropped 1.28 per cent, or 68.8 points, to close at 5,313.4, leaving it in negative territory for the year to date. Seoul fell 0.12 per cent, or 2.47 points, to 2,031.64 and Hong Kong eased 0.38 per cent, or 89.72 points, to 23,678.41.
However, Shanghai reversed morning losses to end 0.11 per cent higher, adding 2.62 points, to 2,347.72
Analysts said the losses could be partially blamed on profit-taking at the end of the quarter after a recent uptrend, while investors contemplate a weak outlook for China and Japan and the likelihood of higher US interest rates from next year.
US stocks turned negative Thursday, led by a sell-off in Apple, which has been hit by complaints about its new operating system and latest iPhone models.
The Dow tumbled 1.54 per cent and the S&P 500 lost 1.62 per cent. The Nasdaq sank 1.94 per cent.
Adding to downward pressure in New York was news that US durable goods orders plunged 18.2 per cent in August while the Labor Department said new claims for unemployment insurance rose last week.
Japan said Friday that inflation came in at 3.1 per cent in August. Excluding the impact of a sales tax hike in April, the rise in core consumer prices was 1.1 per cent, well short of the Bank of Japan’s ambitious 2.0 per cent target for next year.
Many economists say the central bank may have to further ease monetary policy to offset the long-term impact of a sales tax hike on consumption.
The sharp fall in equities filtered through to the foreign exchange market, where the dollar slipped in US trade Thursday to 108.73 yen from 109.30 yen earlier in Tokyo.
But in afternoon exchanges Friday the greenback edged back 109.00 yen.
The euro was also struggling following a series of results suggesting the eurozone economy’s tepid recovery was faltering.
The euro – which hit a two-year low below $1.27 intraday Thursday – bought $1.2745 and 138.95 yen against $1.2750 and 138.62 yen in New York.
On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November delivery down 13 cents to $92.40 while Brent crude for November eased 28 cents to $96.72 in afternoon trade.
Gold was at $1,224.45 an ounce against $1,225.14 late Thursday.