ASIA MARKETS: Asian Stocks Track Wall Street Declines, But Korea's Kospi Rebounds

By Lucy CraymerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Yen strength pressures Japan's Nikkei; Indian shares rise

Stock markets in Asia continued to weaken on Friday after declines in the U.S. and European sessions, but South Korea's stock benchmark rebounded after Thursday's sharp end-of-session losses.

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South Korea's Kospi closed higher by 0.5%, recovering from Thursday's loss that analysts attributed to the quarterly expiration of index options and futures. Such expirations sometimes result in heavy trading as institutional investors unwind or rollover positions.

There had been aggressive selling from local brokers' proprietary-trading desks and Korea's national postal service, said Jay Jung, a sales trader for Nomura in Korea. Paul Choi, head of Korea research for CLSA, added the index's drop wasn't backed by fundamentals, resulting in Friday's outperformance.

The region's declines, meanwhile, were led by Japan and Hong Kong. A stronger yen and declines in telecom stocks helped push the Nikkei Average down 0.6%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 1.1%, as financial stocks again lagged behind.

Investor sentiment in Asia was hit by concerns about tax-reform efforts in the U.S. OCBC Bank pointed to Sen. Marco Rubio's spokeswoman saying he will vote no if there is not a larger child tax credit.

Singapore's main index slid 0.6%, hit by fresh selling in bank stocks. The Straits Times Index earlier this week hit a fresh 2 1/2 -year closing high.

But equities in India got a lift from exit polls suggesting the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will remain in power in Gujarat state and unseat the opposition in Himachal Pradesh. The Sensex rose 0.7%.

New Zealand's NZX 50 climbed 0.5% to 8,360.86, setting a sixth-straight record closing high and the 46th of 2017. There were 50 last year. Leading the moves was a 23% rise in beauty-brand manager Trilogy International (TIL.NZ) following a buyout offer.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 15, 2017 06:21 ET (11:21 GMT)