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25 Mar 2021 | 11:15

Asia report: Markets mixed amid technology sell-off

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia were mixed at the end of the day on Thursday, with technology stocks suffering losses following a sell-off in the sector on Wall Street overnight. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 1.14% at 28,729.88, as the yen weakened 0.33% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 109.09.

Technology giant SoftBank Group slid 2.84%, while among the benchmark's other major components, robotics specialist Fanuc was up 4.01% and Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing advanced 1.39%.

The broader Topix index was ahead 1.4% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,955.55.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was off 0.1% at 3,363.59, and the smaller, technology-centric Shenzhen Composite slipped 0.02% to 2,166.40.

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4% to 3,008.33, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong lost 0.07% to 27,899.61.

Chinese smartphone and technology giant Xiaomi slid 4.4% in the special administrative region, even after it reported a 36.7% improvement in net profit for the fourth quarter.

Adjusted net profit for the three months ended 31 December was CNY 3.2bn, beating expectations for a figure of CNY 2.9bn.

Other Chinese tech plays also fell in Hong Kong, with Alibaba Group down 3.91%, Baidu falling 9.65%, and Tencent 2.81% lower.

Sentiment around China-based technology companies was dented overnight, after the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced new measures that would see foreign firms removed from American bourses if they did not meet US auditing standards.

Seoul's blue-chip technology stocks were mixed, meanwhile, with Samsung Electronics managing gains of 0.25%, while SK Hynix lost 0.37%.

"Despite some wins on the Asian bourses, broader sentiment is still in risk-off mode," said Axi chief global market strategist Stephen Innes.

"However, markets are trading in a tight range and lacklustre fashion with many contents to view from afar if volume data is a good gauge of interest."

Innes quipped that when uncertainty trumped certainty, such movements were the usual market outcome.

"Investors have been doing a lot of whingeing lately and are still stuck trying to decide if we have entered a low volatility consolidation period where US rates stop going up for a few weeks, then everything stabilises as we process the new higher level of global rates.

"Or will we pivot back to the future and those inflationary expectations and ornery risk suppressive higher US yields?

"But really, day in day out, there are more questions than answers."

Oil prices were lower as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last down 0.95% at $63.80 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate losing 1.24% to $60.42.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 managed gains of 0.17% to 6,790.60, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was 0.24% firmer at 12,388.06.

The down under dollars were both stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.37% at AUD 1.3240, and the Kiwi advancing 0.32% to NZD 1.4318.
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