Thursday, September 25, 2014

Asian shares fall after overnight selloffs

Asian stocks fell Friday, with Tokyo shares dropping sharply after a selloff in global markets and Australia's benchmark index wiping out its gains for the year.

The benchmark Nikkei Stock Average was down 1.3% and the S&P/ASX 200 lost more than 1.0% to 5326.5 as the Aussie dollar (AUDUSD) fell. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was also down 0.7% as skepticism builds over China's targeted stimulus efforts. The Hang Seng is on track for its third straight week of losses.

In New York on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 1.5% to 16945.80. Its biggest decline since July 31 was blamed on the uncertain global economy, high stock prices, international conflicts and fears of asset seizures in Russia.

"Japan is never immune to global equity sentiment which, at least for the moment, has taken an abrupt turn for the worse," said Naoki Fujiwara, fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management.

A weaker dollar (USDJPY) also put Japan's market under pressure, trading at Yen108.92--down from Yen109.16 at Thursday's close in Tokyo. A weaker dollar is bad for Japanese companies that market products overseas, as it hinders price cuts and buys them fewer yen when repatriating profits. Among major market movers, yen-sensitive exporters Honda Motor Co. and TDK Corp. fell 1.5% and 0.5%, respectively.

Earlier, closely watched consumer-price index data showed a slightly larger than expected fall in Japan's underlying inflation rate to 1.1%, though traders discounted the impact on stock trading. The Bank of Japan's policy goal is to raise the rate to 2% by sometime next year.

Mainland China's market bucked the trend as investors looked to a possible replacing of the central bank chief as a signal the country is steering toward a more accommodating monetary policy stance. The Shanghai Composite Index was roughly flat while the Shenzhen Composite was up 0.2%.

By Brad Frischkorn and Chao Deng