ASIA MARKETS: Chip-stock Malaise Spreads To Asia, Dragging Down Markets

By Ese Erheriene Features Dow Jones Newswires

Samsung, AAC, Tokyo Electron, Semiconductor Manufacturing among worst performers

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The week's global decline in technology stocks continued Thursday, weighing on Asian markets.

Asian chip shares fell after fresh selling in the U.S. overnight, with the Nasdaq Composite falling 1.3% during a 4.4% slump in the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, its biggest drop of the year.

The tech-heavy Taiwan stock market was recently down 1% with Taiwan Semiconductor (2330.TW) , by far the island's biggest company, sliding 2.4%. Korea's Kospi shed 0.5% as its market giant, Samsung Electronics (005930.SE) , dropped 2.7%.

Stocks for Taiwan Semiconductor and Samsung, which have seen big gains this year, have fallen 6% and 8%, respectively, this week. Morgan Stanley had earlier dropped its bullish rating on both firms amid broader concerns about the state of the industry, particularly the memory-chip segment. The investment bank said prices of those products have started to fall.

The weakness also hit Hong Kong, where the Hang Seng Index was down 1.3% and was the region's worst performer. Component makers AAC Technologies (2018.HK) and Sunny Optical (2382.HK) , whose stocks have surged this year, fell nearly 5% in morning trading while index heavyweight Tencent (0700.HK) pulled back a further 2%.

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One of the region's worst-faring chip stocks has been Hong Kong-listed Semiconductor Manufacturing (0700.HK) . It has fallen 11% this week and is 28% below the 12-year highs set earlier this month.

"The drastic selloff in U.S. technology shares surprised many last night, " said Jane Fu, a sales trader at CMC Markets. The so-called FAANG stocks -- Facebook (FB) , Amazon (AMZN) , Apple (AAPL) , Netflix (NFLX) and Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) (GOOGL) Google -- fell from 2% to 5.5%.

Japan's Topix electric-appliances subindex fell 2%, with Tokyo Electron (8035.TO) dropping another 2.5%. That offset a pullback in the yen overnight and left the Nikkei down 0.1% at the end of morning trading.

Meanwhile, the launch of a judicial inquiry into Australia's financial industry sent shares of the country's big banks sliding early before partially recovering by midday. But Commonwealth Bank (CBA.AU) , Australia's largest, was down 2%. The S&P/ASX 200 was recently 0.6% lower, after earlier falling more than 1%.

The probe "will be costly, take a lot of time and lead to unknown outcomes given the broad scope," noted Omkar Joshi, portfolio manager at Regal Funds Management.

Some of the big banks are also listed in New Zealand. Despite Australia's probe and fresh uncertainty about New Zealand's freshly installed government, the NZX-50 was up 0.3%, on pace to notch -- barely -- a record 11th-straight monthly gain.

In China, benchmarks were slightly lower after their recent bouts of weakness, holding up Thursday amid an upbeat reading on November manufacturing activity.

Meanwhile, bitcoin continued its volatile trading. It slammed through $10,000 for the first time Wednesday, briefly topped $11,000, but then fell more than 10% before moving back above $10,000 in Asian trading Thursday.

Oil prices edged higher in Asian trading after fresh overnight selling ahead of the meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries later Thursday.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 29, 2017 23:28 ET (04:28 GMT)