Asia Markets

Japanese shares fall as yen strength weighs

Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

Asian markets were under pressure on Tuesday, as investor sentiment soured after the Dow retreated further from the 20,000 mark and oil prices plunged as much as 4 percent overnight.

Japanese benchmark dropped 0.79 percent or 152.9 points at 19,301.44, falling sharply in afternoon trade after the yen strengthened against the dollar, touching lows of 115.18 earlier.

Shares of Toyota shed 1 percent to 6,861 yen each, after its North American Chief Executive Jim Lentz announced on Monday that it would invest $10 billion over the next five years in the U.S. to meet demand and upgrade plants and build more fuel-efficient models.

The Japanese automaker has recently been criticized by President-elect Donald Trump on Twitter for shifting the production of its Corolla to Mexico from Canada.

"Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax," said Donald Trump in a Tweet on Jan. 6.

But Toyota's Lentz said in an interview at the Detroit auto show that this investment was not in response to Trumps' latest tweet, but part of Toyota's business strategy.

Asian markets open in the red

Takeda Pharmaceutical was nearly flat, up 0.02 percent, paring gains of 1.35 percent earlier, to trade at 4,966 yen a share, after it announced it would buy U.S. cancer drug maker Ariad Pharmaceuticals, in a deal valued at $5.2 billion.

The ASX 200 closed down 0.8 percent or 46.7 points at 5,760.7, seeing broad losses across all sub-indexes except for gold which was up 1.43 percent.

Australian retail prices for November rose by 0.2 percent from October, versus market consensus calling for a 0.4 percent increase.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi finished 0.18 percent or 3.66 points lower at 2,045.12.

South Korean electronic giants LG and Samsung consider building U.S. factories for the production of home appliances to appease Trump, the Nikkei Business Review reported late Monday. Both companies are set to announce its plans to invest in the U.S. ahead of the new president's inauguration on Jan. 20.

LG Electronics was down 3.36 percent at 51,800 won each, while Samsung Electronics inched 0.05 percent at 1,862,000 won per share.

Mainland Chinese shares were lower, with the down 0.29 percent or 9.34 points at 3,161.89 and the Shenzhen composite slipped 0.244 percent or 4.86 points at finish at 1,989.28.

China's December consumer inflation was up 2.1 percent year-on-year, lower than a Reuters poll which had expected consumer prices to rise by 2.3 percent, while producer prices jumped 5.5 percent from the previous year compared to forecasts of 4.5 percent increase. Producer prices had risen to the fastest pace since September 2011, indicating the economy is on a recovery track.

Hong Kong's was in the green, up 0.58 percent by 3:20 pm local time.

Alibaba Group and Intime Retail Group Founder Shen Guo Jun have jointly bid to take the Chinese department store operator private for HK$19.79 ($2.55 billion), or HK$10 per Intime share, a premium of 42.25 percent to the stock's last price on December 28 after trading was suspended.

Intime Retail Group resumed trading on Tuesday, up 35.14 percent at HK$9.50 a share.

Stateside, the retreated from its march to 20,000, slipped 0.38 percent to 19,887.38, while the S&P 500 fell 0.35 percent to end at 2,268.9 while the composite finished up 0.19 percent, to 5,531.82.

In currency markets, the dollar index lost ground to trade at 101.58, compared to highs of 102.29 yesterday.

"Greenback bulls have erred on the side of caution this week as we approach Trump's press conference and confirmation hearings," said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at ThinkMarkets, in a note released Tuesday.

The yen rose against the dollar at 115.35, while the Australian dollar was stronger at $0.7374. The pound was weaker against the greenback, trading at $1.2169, extending a four-day decline after comments from British Prime Minister Theresa May suggesting that the U.K. may leave the European single market.

During Asian hours, U.S. crude was up 0.29 percent at $52.11 a barrel, while Brent was down 0.36 percent at $55.14.

Crude prices dropped 4 percent on Monday during U.S. hours, on concerns that record Iraqi crude exports and rising U.S. production would undermine the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries recent deal to cut supply.

In Iraq, oil exports from the southern Basra ports reached a record high of 3.51 million barrels per day in December, Reuters reported.

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