Shares in Asia-Pacific fell on Thursday, with Chinese tech stocks slipping again as regulatory fears continue to weigh on investor sentiment.
Shares of Alibaba in Hong Kong fell to a record low of 160.30 Hong Kong dollars on Thursday but pared losses before the close. The stock still closed at 5.54% lower.
Other Chinese tech giants listed in Hong Kong also saw heavy losses, with Tencent slipping 3.44% while Meituan dropped 7.15%. The Hang Seng Tech index slipped 2.93% to 6,044.03.
Hong Kong’s broader Hang Seng index closed 2.13% lower at 25,316.33.
Elsewhere, shares of Japanese automaker Toyota closed 4.42% lower on Thursday after the Nikkei reported the firm will slash its global production for September by 40% from what was previously planned. Other Japanese automaker stocks also declined: Nissan fell 2.63%, Honda shed 2.73% and Mitsubishi Motors declined 2.38%.
The broader Nikkei 225 in Japan declined 1.1% to close at 27,281.17 while the Topix index shed 1.39% to 1,897.19.
The Taiex in Taiwan led losses among the region’s major markets on Thursday, falling 2.68% to 16,375.40.
Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed on the day, with the Shanghai composite slipping 0.57% to 3,465.55 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.23% to 14,487.36. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 1.93% to close at 3,097.83.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.5% lower at 7,464.60. Australia’s unemployment rate declined to 4.6% in July, against June’s reading of 4.9%, according to seasonally adjusted estimates released Thursday by the country’s Bureau of Statistics.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell nearly 2%.
Shares of miners in Australia fell sharply on Thursday following an overnight decline in iron ore prices. Rio Tinto shares dropped 5.73% while Fortescue Metals Group declined 6.15%, and BHP plunged 6.35%.
“Iron ore prices dropped again overnight on demand concerns linked to China’s steel output restrictions in H2 2021,” Vivek Dhar, a commodities analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a Thursday note.
“Prices in asia have now declined 31% from July 15 to August 18, signalling just how quickly fortunes have turned for the steel-making ingredient,” Dhar wrote. “Steel mills in China are tolerating lower grade ores with higher impurities as their objective is now cost minimisation over maximising productivity.”
Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 382.59 points to 34,960.69 while the S&P 500 shed 1.07% to 4,400.27. The Nasdaq Composite slid 0.89% to 14,525.91.
Those losses came as minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July gathering showed officials made plans to pull back the pace of their monthly bond purchases likely before the end of the year.
“Looking ahead, most participants noted that, provided that the economy were to evolve broadly as they anticipated, they judged that it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year,” the minutes stated.
Asian Markets Currencies & Oil
Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asia trading hours. The international benchmark Brent crude futures dropped 2.89% to $66.27 per barrel, and U.S. crude futures shed 3.44% to $63.21 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers in Asia, was at 93.41 after a recent spike from below 92.8.
The Japanese yen traded at 109.63 per dollar, still weaker than levels below 109.5 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7161, having dropped from above $0.73 earlier in the week.