ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Drop Slightly After Declines In U.S., Europe

By Gregor Stuart Hunter Features Dow Jones Newswires

Samsung drags down Kospi, Nikkei slips as BOJ keeps rates steady

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Asia-Pacific stocks were lower to start the day, following overnight declines in Europe, as equity investors digested the passage of tax-code changes in the U.S.

But Treasury yields continued to rise Wednesday, hitting fresh nine-month highs, sitting just below the psychologically important 2.5% mark for the 10-year.

Higher yields often send Japanese financial stocks -- notably insurers -- up. But that didn't happen early Thursday. The Nikkei Stock Average was recently down 0.5%, led by declines at electronics companies. The yen was weaker compared with day earlier levels, though it rebounded slightly in morning trading.

South Korea's Kospi index was 1% lower as major component Samsung Electronics (005930.SE) slid 2%.

The Bank of Japan wrapped up its final policy meeting of the year, standing still on major policies, as expected, but providing no hints about plans for 2018.

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Read: Bank of Japan keeps rates steady, gives no hint of future changes (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bank-of-japan-keeps-rates-steady-gives-no-hint-of-future-changes-2017-12-20)

In currencies, the British pound fell about 0.4% after Damian Green, a senior minister in Theresa May's cabinet, resigned (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/key-ally-to-uk-leader-theresa-may-resigns-over-computer-porn-comments-2017-12-20) after a parliamentary investigation found he made misleading statements about pornography found on his office computer.

Meanwhile, the Chinese yuan rose 0.4% against the U.S. dollar yesterday as policy makers reiterated language stating that monetary policy will be "prudent and neutral" next year, easing a focus on deleveraging.

That gain resulted in the People's Bank of China raising the yuan's daily trading midpoint Thursday against the dollar to the strongest since early September.

"While China has been tightening and curtailing credit selectively such as accessing mortgages, there has been some chatter that GDP growth could fall dramatically if credit slowed dramatically," said Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer at KraneShares, which sells China-focused exchange-traded funds. "The statement implies credit will be allowed to grow the local government debt regulation was singled out for "concrete measures".

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 20, 2017 22:25 ET (03:25 GMT)