ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Slide Lower Following Late U.S. Selloff

Nikkei down after Tuesday's 26-year high; mining companies weigh on ASX

Asian stocks started lower Wednesday following a late selloff in U.S. equities and fresh multiyear and record highs logged by some regional stock markets on Tuesday.

Sentiment was weaker after a solid performance in the region on Tuesday which saw Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index score a record-high close and Singapore's benchmark stock index getting to levels last seen in 2007.

Leading the way lower was Japan's Nikkei Stock Average , which fell 0.6% after climbing 1% Tuesday to fresh 26-year highs. The pullback came as the dollar is at fresh four-month lows against the yen at Yen110.35. It was around Yen110.85 when local stock trading ended Tuesday.

While export-reliant stocks weakened, as they often do when the yen strengthens, Japanese oil firms were also weak after overnight declines in crude prices. Oil prices were up about 0.3% in early Asian trading but shares of oil distributor JXTG (5020.TO) and oil explorer Inpex (1605.TO) were down about 2%.

Australian oil names were slightly lower but the Sydney market was down 0.5%, weighed by a 2.5% slide for BHP Billiton (BHP.AU) and Rio Tinto (RIO) . The mining giants were lower as some investors took profits on the pair's roughly 20% jump to multiyear highs in recent weeks.

There has been increased stock volatility in Australia, which "suggests traders are becoming nervous that the market may already have anticipated the widely expected strong profits" set to be announced in the coming weeks, said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

"If further selling does emerge over the next session or two, it will signal that a correction is under way," he added.

New Zealand's NZX-50 rose 0.3% to extend Tuesday's rebound, with a2 Milk (ATM.NZ) up 4.5%. The company said it would expand distribution of dairy products in the U.S. The market is still underperforming the region; it is still down for January after rising every month last year.

South Korea's Kospi was down 0.4% as investors sold some tourism-related stocks that had recently strengthened amid signs of thaw of relations with North Korea. Asiana Airlines (020560.SE) fell 3.4% and Korean Air (003490.SE) lost 1.6%.

Bitcoin was trading around $11,000 after plunging about 25% on Tuesday.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 16, 2018 22:02 ET (03:02 GMT)