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Asian shares extend selloff on Fed, Greece worries

Asian shares extended their selloff on Tuesday, as Greece's debt talks and the upcoming two-day Federal Reserve meeting sapped risk appetite.

Overnight, Wall Street handed down an unimpressive lead. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.6 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.46 and 0.42 percent, respectively.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Mainland markets down

Equity markets in China extended Monday's steep declines, with China's benchmark Shanghai Composite skidding 3.4 percent, chalking up its biggest fall in nearly 3 weeks. The blue-chip CSI 300 index declined 3 percent while the smaller Shenzhen Composite tanked 3.6 percent amid worries of a fresh clampdown on margin financing and a new wave of initial public offerings (IPOs).

Among laggards, telecommunication and infrastructure-related counters were the worst hit.

To be sure, there are analysts who view the week's declines as a healthy correction. "Markets have moved a long way in a short time... due to upcoming IPOs and concerns over margin lending, but i think it has just gone up too quickly and this correction is a positive thing," Kirk West, executive director - International Investment at Principal Global Investors, told CNBC.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed down 1.1 percent to its lowest level since April 8.

ASX flat

Australian shares pulled back from earlier gains to step slightly into negative territory.

Earlier in the session, the Sydney bourse advanced after minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) previous policy meeting showed the central bank reiterating its view that monetary policy should remain accommodative. The central bank kept interest rates steady at a record low 2.0 percent, in line with analysts' expectations, at its June 2 meeting.

Banking counters outperformed the bourse; Westpac and Australia and New Zealand Banking rallied 1.8 and 1 percent, respectively, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank notched up nearly 1 percent each.

Insurance Australia Group is in focus following news that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought a 3.7 percent stake in the insurer for 500 million Australian dollars ($388 million). Shares of IAG leaped 4.3 percent.

Nikkei drops 0.6%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index drifted lower even though dollar-yen ticked up 0.15 percent to trade around 123.60.

Toyota Motor trimmed losses to 0.2 percent after shareholders approved the automaker's controversial plan to issue a new class of shares at its annual general meeting.

Honda Motor extended losses to recede 1.2 percent, a day after saying it would restate its financial results for the last business year to account for about $360 million in additional costs related to an expanded recall.

Kospi loses 0.7%

South Korea's Kospi index ended at around 11-week lows amid a broad-based selloff. Earlier in the session, the Seoul index tumbled as much as 1.7 percent to 2,008 points, marking its lowest intra-day level since March 17.

Steep declines among index heavyweights contributed significant downward pressure on the bourse. Samsung Electronics plunged more than 1 percent, while Kepco and KB Financial Group closed down 1.8 and 2.2 percent, respectively.

The country's largest steelmaker Posco reversed a higher open to lose 1.3 percent following the announcement of a deal to sell a 38 percent stake in its construction unit to Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Stocks in focus

Shares of Kuala Lumpur-listed AirAsia doubled losses to more than 8 percent, hitting their lowest levels since August 2010, after group CEO Tony Fernandes said the airline will raise funds at loss-making associates and sell planes to pare down debt in a note issued yesterday.

Meanwhile, Singapore-listed Noble Group pared hefty gains to trade flat even though the embattled commodity trader unleashed a fresh round of share buyback on Monday.