ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Drop Slightly As Dust Settles After U.S. Tax Bill

By Gregor Stuart HunterFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

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

Stock benchmarks in Japan, Australia and Taiwan ended slightly lower after the muted session in the U.S., as equity investors digested the passage of tax-code changes in the U.S.

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Treasury yields pulled back in Asian trading hours Thursday after hitting fresh nine-month highs in the U.S., with the 10-year yield nearing the psychologically important 2.5% mark. It was recently at 2.498%.

Higher yields often send Japan financial stocks -- notably insurers -- up. But they weren't getting much help Thursday, and the Nikkei Stock Average closed down 0.1%.

The market also wasn't benefiting from a weaker yen. The dollar was recently at Yen113.43, versus Yen113 at the end of Tokyo stock trading Wednesday. The currency barely budged ( the Bank of Japan's policy statement, which maintained its main policy stances.

Read: Bank of Japan keeps rates steady, gives no hint of future changes (

South Korea's stock benchmark closed down 1.7% on fresh weakness in Samsung Electronics (005930.SE), which ended 3.4% down. It was downgraded by Morgan Stanley last month after hefty gains this year, and its shares have moved at least 1% in 11 of the past 19 sessions.

Among the gainers, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.5%, led by a rise in materials and energy stocks. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4%.

U.S. tax changes should boost growth and indirectly contribute to greater demand for goods and services produced in Asia, said Jonathan Garrick, who manages the $63 million Neutron Asia Absolute Return Fund.

"It's a huge positive for American business and the American economy--whether it puts them in trouble with the deficit is another question--but a strongly growing U.S. economy is for the benefit of the world," he added.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 21, 2017 05:44 ET (10:44 GMT)