Stock markets tumble on tech sell-off, dollar sags

Representative image. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Tokyo, Japan Nov 20, 2018, 08.34 AM (IST)

Asian stock markets skidded on Tuesday, extending sharp losses on Wall Street as technology firms bore the brunt of worries about slackening demand, while the dollar sagged after weak US data further sapped confidence in the currency.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.9 per cent.

The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 1 per cent, Australian stocks lost 0.9 per cent and tech-heavy South Korean shares dropped 0.8 per cent.

In Seoul, Samsung Electronics fell 1.8 per cent and SK Hynix Inc dropped 2.8 per cent, while Japan's Tokyo Electron was down 1.4 per cent, Advantest lost 1.2 per cent and Sony Corp shed 2.6 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.9 per cent. Shares of Nissan Motor Co tumbled 4.3 per cent after its Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested on Monday for alleged financial misconduct and will be fired from the board this week.

"By under-reporting his corporate salary, he basically deprived Nissan's shareholders of opportunities to judge if the amount of his salary was appropriate," said Toru Ibayashi, executive director of Wealth Management at UBS Securities Japan."This incident will make investors review if Japanese corporate governance is working."

US stocks came under heavy selling on Monday, with Nasdaq tumbling 3 per cent, as investors dumped Apple, internet and other technology shares. Conflicting signals between the United States and China on their trade dispute added to caution.

"The drop by US stocks will cut short any attempt by equity markets to mount a sustained bounce. Investor sentiment has been subdued by lingering weakness in US technology shares," said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.

Worries of a peak in corporate earnings growth amid rising borrowing costs, slowing global economic momentum and international trade tensions triggered a shakeout in stocks over the past two months, with trillions of dollars wiped off equities in a particularly torrid October month.

In currencies, the dollar struggled at a near two-week low against a basket of currencies.

The greenback was hit after data released on Monday showed US homebuilder sentiment recorded its steepest one-month drop in over 4-1/2 years in November.

The dollar had also been weighed down after Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan late last week raised concerns over a potential global slowdown.

The US currency has rallied strongly this year, buoyed by three Fed rate hikes and a robust economy, though some expect the bull run may be nearing an end.

With long-term US Treasury yields slipping to a seven-week low of 3.052 per cent in the wake of weaker stocks and US housing data, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies hovered near 96.120, an 11-day low plumbed on Monday.

The euro was little changed at $1.1448 after gaining 0.35 per cent overnight.

The dollar slipped to a three-week low of 112.40 yen and last traded at 112.58.

The Australian dollar, sensitive to shifts in risk sentiment, was steady at $0.7294 after losing 0.5 per cent the previous day.

Crude oil ran out of steam after gaining the previous day on the reported drawdown of US oil inventories, potential European Union sanctions on Iran and possible OPEC production cuts.

US crude futures were flat at $57.20 per barrel and Brent slipped 0.1 per cent to $66.72 per barrel.