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Markets

Asia stocks lower for 2nd day; Nikkei ends down 0.6%

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Investing.com - Asian stock markets were lower during late Asian trade on Wednesday, with shares in the region moving further away from multi-year highs as investors turned cautious over recent gains.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.6%, Australia's ASX/200 Index ended 0.5% lower, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed down 0.6%.

Global stock markets have rallied sharply in recent weeks, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining for the eighth consecutive day on Tuesday to move further into unchartered territory, as central-bank policy has been helping spur a shift into riskier assets, such as equities.

But concerns over the global economic outlook remained after Chinese data released over the weekend showed consumer price inflation accelerated to a ten-month high in February, while industrial production slowed to the lowest level since October 2009.

Higher-than-expected inflation could raise concerns that Beijing will start monetary tightening.

Fears over a possible economic impact from the U.S. sequestration spending cuts, as well as last month's election deadlock in Italy also was likely to remain in focus.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei moved further off the highest level since September 2008, as investors booked profits for a second straight session on recent performers amid concerns the market was set for a near-term correction.

The benchmark index has rallied nearly 18% since the start of the year, as expectations for more aggressive monetary stimulus from the Bank of Japan under new central bank chief Hirahiko Kuroda underpinned sentiment.

Electronics maker Panasonic declined 2.9%, camera maker Canon lost 2.8%, while automaker Toyota lost 1%. Japanese exporters have been amongst the most notable gainers in recent months, as ongoing weakness in the yen boosted the outlook for export earnings.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the benchmark ASX/200 Index inched lower for a second day. The index touched the highest level since September 2008 earlier in the week.

The big four banks all fell after both Deutsche Bank and UBS lowered their view on the sector, citing overvaluation concerns.

Australia's biggest lender, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 1.2%, National Australia Bank dropped 2.3%, while ANZ Banking Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia retreated 0.6% and 0.5% respectively.

Elsewhere, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng fell sharply, tracking steep losses in mainland China, as market players remained concerned over the economic outlook for the world's second largest economy.

The China banking sector were among the biggest drags on the index, with China Construction Bank shares dropping 2.4%, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China falling 1.8% and Bank of China declining 2.5%.

Property developers also contributed to losses, with Sino Land and Sun Hung Kai Properties losing 6% and 3.4% respectively.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a steady open, as investors looked ahead to an auction of Italian government bonds later in the session.

The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a flat open, France's CAC 40 futures were little changed, London's FTSE 100 futures eased down 0.1%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a flat open.

Markets were awaiting the outcome of an auction of three-year and 15-year Italian government bonds later Wednesday, in an important test of investor appetite for the country's debt, as concerns over ongoing political uncertainty lingered following last month's inconclusive elections.

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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.


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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