Tech Companies Weigh Down Some Asia-Pacific Markets -- Update

By Gregor Stuart HunterFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Tech companies weighed down some Asia Pacific stock markets, but many nevertheless posted solid gains Tuesday as volumes begin to taper ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Those stocks traded higher as changes to the U.S. tax code inched closer to completion.

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Highlights included Australia's benchmark, which closed up 0.5% amid commodity-stock strength to set fresh 10-year highs. New Zealand's NZX 50 climbed 0.7%, notching its 47th record closing high of 2017, nearing 50 last year.

With Australian stocks trading near historic highs on a forward price-to-earnings basis, further gains for a market that's lagged this year will depend on rising earnings forecasts for the mining and industrial sectors, said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets.

"When the market is this expensive...you've got to ask yourself what's going to be the earnings driver to push us up from here," he added.

But despite the Nasdaq Composite topping 7000 intraday for the first time amid record highs Monday for U.S. equities, some of Asia's tech-heavy indexes didn't fare as well.

Taiwan's Taiex finished off 0.4%. Apple Inc. rose 1.4% Monday to fresh record highs, but its supply-chain firms Largan Precision and Hon Hai--better known as Foxconn Technology Group--fell some 2% Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.1% ahead of the close, due to declines for companies including Sony, Nintendo and Tokyo Electron. The index had risen by as much as 0.4% shortly after the open.

Korea's Kospi jumped 0.7%, but was recently down 0.1% despite another 1% rebound for South Korean technology giant Samsung Electronics Co.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index returned to positive territory for December. It was up 0.9% in afternoon trading, off a nearly 2% rebound for internet heavyweight Tencent. Chinese indexes were also posting gains of almost 1%.

To the downside, Malaysia's stock benchmark continued to unwind Thursday's jump, which had been its biggest in nearly two years. It has fallen every day since, entering Tuesday's midday break down 0.7%, on pace for its biggest drop since May. Financial and consumer stocks were notably weak.

As oil futures were up about 0.25% in Asia, bitcoin prices remained in the $18,500 to $19,000 range after initial weakness following the start-of-week launch of CME futures trading. The cryptocurrency was recently around $18,825, according to an index from CoinDesk.

Write to Gregor Stuart Hunter at gregor.hunter@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 19, 2017 01:22 ET (06:22 GMT)