Asian stocks decline following Wall Street reversal; bitcoin nurses losses

  • Most Asian markets closed lower after Wall Street closed in negative territory
  • Japan core machinery orders topped expectations
  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies pared some losses after tumbling earlier
  • Bitcoin-exposed stocks in Japan and South Korea tumbled
  • The dollar index edged higher while the euro was a touch softer

Asian markets closed in negative territory on Wednesday after Wall Street reversed a triple-digit point gain to close lower in the previous session.

Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.35 percent, or 83.47 points, to close at 23,868.34 after touching a 26-year high in the previous session. Major exporter stocks finished the session mixed while index heavyweights SoftBank Group and Fanuc declined 0.83 percent and 3.44 percent, respectively.

Core machinery orders released Wednesday showed a second consecutive monthly increase for the month of November, Reuters said. Core orders, a volatile metric, rose 5.7 percent compared to the previous month — easily topping the 1.4 percent decline projected in a Reuters poll.

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Over in South Korea, the Kospi slipped 0.25 percent to end at 2,515.43. Shares of Samsung Electronics finished the session 0.76 percent lower. Rival chipmaker SK Hynix edged down 0.4 percent after trading above the flat line earlier in the day.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.54 percent to close at 6,015.8 following the fall in base metals seen overnight. The materials sector led losses on the index, trading lower by 2.03 percent. Major mining names recorded significant declines: Rio Tinto fell 3.46 percent, BHP tumbled 2.91 percent and Fortescue Metals slid 3.01 percent by the end of the session.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index pulled back 0.13 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN after notching a record close on Tuesday. Financials were a mixed picture after rising in the last session: HSBC Holdings edged up 0.06 percent and China Construction Bank slipped 0.25 percent in the afternoon. Index heavyweight Tencent traded 0.81 percent higher and insurer AIA fell 0.95 percent.

Country Garden declined 5.85 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN after the property developer said in a Wednesday filing it intended to place 460 million shares and issue convertible bonds, which would raise some 23.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($3 billion).

On the mainland, the Shanghai composite bucked the overall downward trend to eke out slight gains, closing 0.26 percent higher at 3,445.36. The Shenzhen composite, however, slid 0.3 percent to end at 1,921.74. The blue chip CSI 300 index closed off by 0.23 percent despite gains in the telecommunications and financials sectors, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China rising 2.12 percent on the day.

Stateside, stock indexes closed in negative territory despite trading at record highs earlier in the session. The Dow Jones industrial average cracked the 26,000 barrier on Tuesday, but later reversed gains to finish the session lower by 0.04 percent, or 10.33 points, at 25,792.86.

Those declines came despite expectation-topping earnings reports as markets focused on the chances of a government shutdown stateside in the scenario Congress fails to pass a spending bill by Friday.

Bitcoin nurses losses

Bitcoin pared some losses after tumbling below the $10,000 mark on U.S. cryptocurrency marketplace Coinbase. The broad sell-off in digital currencies saw bitcoin tumble more than 28 percent at one point. At 2:48 p.m. HK/SIN, bitcoin traded at $11,346.53, according to industry site CoinDesk.

Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, traded at $1,018.52 after falling around 30 percent earlier.

Other cryptocurrencies fared even worse.

The declines followed comments from South Korean authorities that indicated tougher regulation on digital currency trading was being considered. That said, there was no immediately apparent driver behind the most recent decline.

Shares of Asian companies exposed to bitcoin also saw declines on the day. In Japan, Remixpoint closed down 4 percent, Ceres sank 13.79 percent and GMO Internet fell 8 percent. South Korean bitcoin-associated plays also plunged: Vidente lost 17.01 percent and Kakao tumbled 4.63 percent by the end of the day.

Dollar attempts recovery

In currency markets, the dollar edged up after pausing for breath in the last session. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, traded at 90.622 at 2:46 p.m. HK/SIN, off a session low of 90.341.

Against the yen, the dollar rose to fetch 110.80.

Meanwhile, the euro was a touch softer on Wednesday after pulling back from three-year highs in the last session. The common currency traded at $1.2243 after falling as low as $1.2193 on Tuesday.

Those overnight declines had followed news the European Central Bank might not adjust its policy stance at its January meeting. Doubts surrounding coalition talks in Germany also weighed on the common currency in the last session.

On the energy front, oil prices were steady after retreating from their highest levels in three years overnight. U.S. crude futures edged up 0.05 percent to trade at $63.76 per barrel. Brent crude futures was higher by 0.04 percent at $69.18.

Corporate news

Shares of Wanda Hotel Development were higher by 3.76 percent at 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN after it announced in a Tuesday filing that it would gain 434 million Hong Kong dollars ($55 million) after selling its stake in Wanda International Real Estate Investment to an unnamed third party. The Wanda International stake will be sold for just under 36 million pounds ($49 million).

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.