Asian stocks hit by tech losses

By MarketsAssociated Press

Asian stock markets were in the red Wednesday as tech stocks extended losses following sell-offs of their U.S. peers overnight. Investors are selling technology-related shares on concern governments might tighten their scrutiny over Facebook after it was revealed that users' data was shared with a consulting firm affiliated with President Donald Trump.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 sank 1.8 percent to 20,936.59 and South Korea's Kospi slid 1.3 percent to 2,419.89. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 1.4 percent to 30,350.64, while China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.1 percent to 3,131.48. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 retreated 0.8 percent to 5,786.70. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries also fell.

BAD DAY FOR TECH: Investors cut their holdings of Asian tech stocks after a series of incidents sent their U.S. peers lower again. One of those cases is a report that authorities will investigate a fatal crash that involved a Tesla electric SUV equipped with a semi-autonomous control system. In Asia, Samsung Electronics Co. fell 2 percent and Sony Corp. lost 2.4 percent. Softbank Group Corp. slumped 3.6 percent. Tencent Holdings Ltd. was down 2.6 percent.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "So what spooked markets? Well, it looks like the rearing of the (ugly) Facebook privacy infringement was a convenient excuse to sell-off ahead of the long weekend," Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock markets finished sharply lower Tuesday pulled down by Nvidia, Microsoft, Tesla, Twitter, Facebook and other technology companies. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.7 percent to 2,612.62. The Dow tumbled 1.4 percent to 23,857.71. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 2.9 percent to 7,008.81. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 2 percent to 1,513.57.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 54 cents to $64.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract declined 30 cents to settle at $65.25 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 52 cents to $68.94 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 105.53 yen from 105.34 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.2419 from $1.2404.