Techs, Resources Hurt Asia on Growth Fears
Asian stocks closed at session lows on Thursday with most major indices losing over 1 percent as technology and resource plays were sold off on concerns of sluggish economic growth.
Sydney's S&P ASX 200 index finished down 1.6 percent, hurt by the sell off in commodities while the Nikkei eased 1.2 percent and the Kospi barely managed to close above a fresh 2013 low thanks to weakness in tech shares.
Analysts say a multitude of factors contributed to Asia's bearish tone.
"Traders are pricing in the slowdown in China, U.S. earnings have been lackluster overnight, and, following the footsteps of the World Bank, the IMF warns of the risks of excessive easing and downgraded global growth," wrote Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets.
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Investors will be keeping an eye out for further turmoil from Europe as Italy's parliament prepares to vote on a new president, in a key step towards breaking the political gridlock that has effectively shut down new governance.
"These elections are important as they will reveal how close the main leading political forces are to form a coalition government of any sort in future," wrote Mitul Kotecha of Credit Agricole in a note.
A sell off in Apple-linked shares drove the benchmark's losses with Sharp dropping 4.5 percent and Pioneer losing 4 percent after shares of the U.S giant sank 5 percent.
Retail trade firms, a broad reflector of domestic sentiment, took a hit with Marui Group down by 2.8 percent as the yen strengthened.
The currency rose to 98 against the dollar, still within grasp of last week's four-year peak near the 100 level.
The benchmark index is now down over 2.5 percent since hitting a near five-year high at 13,568 points last week.
Resources Hurt Sydney
Miners weighed on the S&P ASX 200 as commodities resumed their sell-off on ongoing worries about global growth, which hurt demand for Australia's raw materials.
Discovery Metal and Western Areas plunged nearly 14 percent after oil and copper prices fell to multi-month lows overnight while gold continued to trade lower after dropping to its lowest since January 2011 on Tuesday.
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Bank of Queensland was in focus after swinging to profit in its first-half. Shares of the lender eased 1.5 percent after posting $103 million in net profit, compared to last year's $92 million loss.
Seoul Down 1.2%
Seoul's benchmark index closed 4 points shy of a 2013 low as chip-maker suppliers suffered the brunt of losses.
LG Display skidded nearly 5 percent and SK Hynix lost 3 percent amid fears about weakening demand for the Apple iPhone and iPad.
Meanwhile, shares of Hyundai Motor slumped 2 percent after reporting sales in Europe fell over 1 percent. The firm warned its first-quarter market share in the region would be around 6 percent.
Greater China Mixed
Property shares helped contain losses in Hong Kong after official data revealed a rise in mainland home prices for the month of March.
China Resources Land led gains by 2.5 percent as buyers rushed to finalize deals ahead of a capital gains tax, which is set to take effect by month-end.
The index earlier touched a fresh low for 2013 at 21,423 points.
In Shanghai, brokerages drove gains with Founder Securities adding 1.7 percent and Dongwu Securities rising 2 percent after foreign direct investment inflows in the mainland rose in the first quarter, helping boost investor confidence.
Speaking to CNBC's "Asia Squawk Box," the IMF's Financial Counselor and Director, Monetary and Capital Markets, Jose Vinals said that he believed the fundamentals of Asian economies looked good, but highlighted prudence.
"Authorities should exercise vigilance in maintaining high buffers in the financial sector and have appropriate degrees of freedom in terms of monetary and fiscal policy so there's room to maneuver if the need arises."