Asia’s markets have fallen following hefty plunges on Wall Street as US technology stocks suffered another sell-off, while China released data showing inflation picked up in March, but was still below forecasts.
Tokyo led the decline on Friday, plunging 2.38 per cent, or 340.07 points, to 13,960.05 – its lowest close in six months, while Seoul lost 0.56 per cent, or 11.17 points, to 1,997.44 and Sydney shed 0.95 per cent, or 52.15 points, to 5,428.6.
Shanghai slid 0.18 per cent, or 3.76 points, to 2,130.54 and Hong Kong fell 0.79 per cent, or 183.32,points, to 23,003.64 on worries over the world’s second-biggest economy.
Asian markets struggled after the Nasdaq suffered another slump on Thursday on lingering fears that high-flying technology stocks such as Facebook and Netflix may be overvalued.
The tech-weighed index plunged 3.10 per cent, the biggest single-day percentage point drop since November 2011. The loss wiped out a two-day rally that picked up on Wednesday when the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting suggested no support for an early rise in interest rates.
But Thursday’s rout spread to other stocks, with New York’s two other main indexes also hit. The Dow shed 1.62 per cent and the S&P 500 was down 2.09 per cent.
Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, said investors were reducing equity exposure across the board and added: “Lower prices were bringing out more sellers.”
He warned: “The market is on very shaky legs.”
In China, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday inflation jumped to 2.4 per cent last month, from 2.0 per cent in February, but short of the 2.5 per cent estimated by economists.
While the figure will soothe fears of possible deflation in the world’s No.2 economy, it is still well below the government’s annual target of 3.5 per cent.
The government also said the producer price index fell 2.3 per cent in March, accelerating from February’s 2.0 per cent slip.
“The figures indicated that the domestic economy continued to slow down, so the market will likely keep consolidating,” Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing said.
On forex markets, the greenback changed hands at Y101.80 in Asian afternoon trade, compared with Y101.44 in New York. The euro rose to Y141.46 from Y140.88 and to $US1.3895 from $US1.3888.
Oil prices fell. New York’s main contract West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery eased 23 US cents to $US103.17 a barrel in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude dipped 19 US cents to $US107.27 for its May contract.
Gold fetched $US1,316.40 an ounce at 1800 AEST, from $US1,322.70 late on Thursday.
In other markets:
– Taipei fell 0.45 per cent, or 40.05 points, to 8,908.05.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co rose 0.42 per cent to $Tw120.0 while Acer fell 1.56 per cent to $Tw18.9.
– Wellington shed 0.47 per cent, or 24.06 points, to 5,091.43.
Online auction house Trade Me was down 2.01 per cent at $NZ3.90 and Air New Zealand was off 0.96 per cent at $NZ2.06.
– Manila slipped 0.63 per cent, or 41.93 points, to 6,596.96.
Ayala Land shed 2.8 per cent to 29.55 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone dropped 0.36 per cent to 2,744 pesos.