Asia stocks track Wall Street slump amid investor caution

Hong Kong

Trading floors across Asia were awash with red on Tuesday tracking a slump in global markets, as investors took profits following recent rallies and awaited a deluge of company and economic announcements.
Higher US bond yields weighed on sentiment while investors were also cautious ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting Wednesday and a host of major earnings reports, including from technology heavyweights, due this week.
All three major US indices fell Monday, in one of the few down days of 2018, as Paris and Frankfurt also edged lower.
Asia extended the global sell-off into Tuesday, with Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Jakarta and Manila all tumbling more than 1 percent.
Shanghai, Sydney and Singapore also retreated.
“While the surge in US bond yields has factored, I suspect the busy week ahead on both corporate and economic news has investors reducing risk while banking some well-earned profits,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.
Sydney-based CMC Markets analyst Ric Spooner added that a key driver behind investor caution was Janet Yellen’s final FOMC meeting as chair.
“A hawkish Fed response to recent strong US data could extend selling in the bond markets and amplify the nervousness evident in US stock markets last night,” he said.
This week’s earnings calendar meanwhile includes tech giants Amazon, Apple and Facebook, as well as traditional blue chip companies such as Boeing, ExxonMobil and McDonald’s.
Investors have been cheered thus far by better-than-expected results and upbeat outlooks in the wake of US tax cuts.
But after a wave of Wall Street records in the first month of the year, they are nervous that stocks “may be priced for perfection” heading into the busiest stretch of earnings season, one analyst said.
Apple slid more than two percent on Monday after the Nikkei daily reported it was slashing production of its latest iPhone model, adding to worries about the company’s earnings.
The tech giant will halve production of the iPhone X in the three-month period from January from the level envisaged at the time of its release in November, the business paper said.
Apple suppliers were among those hit Tuesday, with Sony and electronics components maker Murata both losing 1.9 percent. In Taipei, Hon Hai Precision fell 1.2 percent and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing sank 2.1 percent.—AFP

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