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Asia stocks decline; Nikkei ends down 0.6% on stronger yen

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Shutterstock photo - Asian stock markets declined on Wednesday, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street, with shares in Japan coming under pressure as the yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar, weighing on sentiment.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 1.5%, Australia's ASX/200 Index ended down 0.77%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed 0.62% lower. Asia was given a negative lead from the U.S., where Wall Street closed lower amid speculation over when the Federal Reserve will start to roll back its stimulus program.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei ended lower for the second consecutive session as investors continued to monitor movements in the currency market.

USD/JPY fell to hit a session low of 102.47, moving off Tuesday's high of 103.38. A stronger yen reduces the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, dampening the outlook for export earnings.

Automakers Nissan and Mazda saw shares fall 1.45% and 1.05% respectively, while Olympus dropped 2.4%.

Japanese megabanks were also lower with shares of the nation's largest lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group slumping 1.1%, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Nomura Holdings dipped 0.6% and 0.5% respectively.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng dropped to a three-week low as shares in the financial sector were lower after news that China's four state-owned banks and a former state policy bank will issue a total of CNY19 billion worth of negotiable certificates of deposit.

China Construction Bank shares dropped 2.4%, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China lost 2.5% and Agricultural Bank of China fell 2.6%.

Index heavyweight HSBC Holdings saw shares decline 0.9% after the lender agreed to sell its 8% stake in Bank of Shanghai to Spain's Banco Santander. Shares of HSBC command a 15% weighting on the Hong Kong benchmark, making it the single largest constituent on the index.

Elsewhere, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index fell to the lowest level since August 30 as losses in the financial sector weighed on the benchmark index.

The big four banks were all lower, with National Australia Bank dropping 0.9%, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Group retreated 1% apiece.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a modestly lower open.

The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a loss of 0.2% at the open, France's CAC 40 futures shed 0.15%, London's FTSE 100 futures indicated a decline of 0.2%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a loss of 0.3%.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., equity markets also pointed to mild losses at the open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.15% decline, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.15% drop, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a loss of 0.2%. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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