Asia report: Markets mostly lower as Alibaba hits record low

by | Aug 19, 2021

Most bourses in Asia were on the back foot as they closed on Thursday, with Chinese technology stocks once again in focus, as Alibaba fell to a record intraday low.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 1.1% at 27,281.17, as the yen strengthened 0.1% on the dollar to last trade at JPY 109.66.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, robotics specialist Fanuc was down 2.07%, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing lost 0.76%, and technology giant SoftBank Group was 1.3% weaker.

Carmaking behemoth Toyota Motor slid 4.42% after the Nikkei newspaper reported that it was planning a 40% cut to its previously-planned global production from September.

Its automotive peers were also in the red, with Honda Motor down 2.73%, Mitsubishi Motors losing 2.38%, and Nissan Motor 2.63% weaker.

The broader Topix index was off 1.39% by the end of trading in Tokyo, settling at 1,897.19.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.57% at 3,465.55, and the smaller, technology-centric Shenzhen Composite managed gains of 0.2% to 2,417.23.

South Korea’s Kospi was down 1.93% to 3,097.83, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong slid 2.13% to 25,316.33.

Shares in internet giant Alibaba tumbled to a record low price of HKD 160.30 during the day in the special administrative region, before clawing back some losses to close down 5.54% at HKD 162.10.

Other technology plays in Hong Kong followed suit, with Meituan down 7.15% and Tencent ending the day 3.44% weaker.

The blue-chip tech stocks were in the red in Seoul as well, with Samsung Electronics down 1.08%, and SK Hynix 1.44% lower.

“Stocks are broadly weaker with Asia leading the declines into the European session,” said chief market analyst Neil Wilson.

“Further weakness in Chinese tech amid a competition clampdown by the authorities saw Alibaba hit a record low in Hong Kong, where the broad market declined 2.5%.”

Wilson said global sentiment was dented after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting, released overnight, indicated the US central bank would begin tapering of its monthly bond buying shortly.

“Details from the July meeting of the FOMC showed most policymakers ‘judged that it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year’, though there was some division over when to start and how quickly to dial back the stimulus,” he added.

Oil prices were lower as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last down 3.12% at $66.10 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate losing 3.42% to $63.22.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.5% weaker at 7,464.60, as investors in the southern continent digested the latest unemployment data.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the jobless rate narrowed to a seasonally-adjusted 4.6% in July, from the 4.9% it recorded in June.

Miners were on the back foot in Sydney, however, after a tumble for iron ore prices overnight, with BHP down 6.35%, Fortescue Metals losing 6.15%, and Rio Tinto 5.73% weaker.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 jumped 1.87% to 12,956.97, led higher by broadband infrastructure operator Chorus, which rocketed 12.4% in Wellington.

That came after the Commerce Commission set the company’s regulated asset base, which determines the revenue it can derive from the fibre network, at NZD 5.5bn.

Analysts at local outfit Jarden had based its May valuation for Chorus on the competition regulator setting an asset base of NZD 5.25bn.

The down under dollars were both weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.99% at AUD 1.3957, and the Kiwi retreating 0.8% at NZD 1.4653.

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