ASIA MARKETS: Stocks In China, Hong Kong Continue To Fade

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Nikkei, Kospi largely unaffected by North Korean missile test

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Chinese and Hong Kong stocks fell again after initial Wednesday morning gains, as investors in Asia largely shrugged off North Korea's latest missile launch.

But some market focus has drifted temporarily from equities, as bitcoin cracked $10,000 for the first time in Asian trading. It is up more than 20% since Friday as the cryptocurrency has increasingly become mainstream. It was recently at $10,256.79, according to research site CoinDesk.

The CSI 300, made up of the biggest stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen , ended morning trade down 0.9%, adding to retreats from two-year highs the index set earlier this month. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was recently down 0.3%, after opening higher.

"There is some institutional selling in the Chinese markets," said Ivan Ip, a stock strategist at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong. At the same time, market chatter in the past 24 hours suggests some public funds have been told to cap selling.

Among the biggest declines there were semiconductor stocks, with Will Semiconductor (603501.SH) and CIG Shanghai (603083.SH) down more than 6%. Sector weakness could also be seen in Japan, with chip-equipment maker Tokyo Electron (8035.TO) finishing morning trading down 4.6%.

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The declines followed Monday downgrades in chip giants Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor (2330.TW) by Morgan Stanley. The investment bank raised concerns about the health of the memory-chip market.

But Japanese stocks were stronger overall, with the Nikkei rising 0.4% after an overnight pullback in the yen. The dollar is at Yen111.45 after falling as low as Yen111.07 during U.S. trading following the North Korea missile launch.

The dollar quickly rebounded after the Senate Banking Committee narrowly approved its version of tax-reform legislation.

Australian stocks were also solid. The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.7%, helped by strength from the country's major banks -- financials were also strong early in Japan.

Korea's Kospi was barely lower at midday despite the missile test, though Samsung (005930.SE) fell another 0.9%.

Investors are also awaiting a Thursday decision from the Bank of Korea on whether it will raise rates.

The won has rallied to 2 1/2 -year highs lately against the dollar on the prospects of tighter monetary policy. After falling to 1,079 won in early U.S. trading, the dollar recovered by the time of the missile test. The pair wasn't affected by the launch and remained about 1,083 won in recent Asian trading.

Elsewhere, prospects of the Bank of Japan increasing its targeted yield on 10-year government bonds may have dampened after Japanese retail sales last month logged their first decline in a year.

Oil futures fell further in Asian trading, hit by downbeat U.S. inventory data from an industry group. U.S. and global benchmark futures were down about 0.5%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 28, 2017 23:20 ET (04:20 GMT)