Asia Markets

Asian shares slip as the dollar firms; HSBC falls 3.1%

Key Points
  • Asian shares slipped on Tuesday, following a quiet overnight session.
  • Markets in mainland China, Taiwan and Vietnam remain closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
  • HSBC fell more than 3 percent after reporting full-year profit.

Asian shares closed lower on Tuesday after a relatively quiet overnight session, due to U.S. markets being closed for a holiday on Monday.

Japan's lost 1.01 percent, or 224.11 points, to close at 21,925.1 as financials, manufacturing and energy-related names traded in negative territory, while technology stocks finished the day mixed.

Automakers were mostly lower, with Toyota closing 1.19 percent. Mitsubishi Motors edged higher by 0.36 percent, outperforming its peers. The move followed a Nikkei report that Mitsubishi Corporation was looking into raising its stake in Mitsubishi Motors to approximately 20 percent through a tender offer. Mitsubishi Corporation, which traded down 1.75 percent, said it had yet to reach a decision, according to Reuters.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi slid 1.13 percent to end at 2,415.12, with losses seen in heavyweight technology names: Samsung Electronics fell 2.03 percent and SK Hynix declined 1.31 percent by the end of the day.

The manufacturing sector was mixed. Shares of steelmakers Posco closed higher by 0.28 percent and Hyundai Steel ended the day off by 0.19 percent. The moves came after South Korea's trade ministry on Monday indicated it would not sit on its hands if the U.S. implemented tariffs on steel imports. Yonhap News Agency said South Korea would weigh filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization if the U.S. decided to impose those tariffs.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 finished the session off by 0.01 percent as the 1.93 percent gain in the information technology sector was offset by declines seen in other sectors. The heavily weighted financials sub-index slipped 0.18 percent, and the materials sub-index was lower by 0.26 percent.

Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia released on Tuesday indicated policymakers were sanguine about the uptick in the global economy. RBA members also noted that wage growth "was yet to pick up" despite the robust job market and highlighted that household debt remained "elevated."

Meanwhile, mining major BHP announced after the market close that underlying profit for the six months ending December stood at $4.05 billion, a 25 percent increase from one year ago. That was below an estimate of $4.3 billion from Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Hong Kong's ended the session down 0.78 percent, or 241.8 points, at 30,873.63 as markets resumed trade after a long Lunar New Year weekend. Financials dragged on the broader market, with China Construction Bank closing down 1.77 percent and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China lower by 1.57 percent.

HSBC shares were down 3.11 percent after the bank announced on Tuesday that its reported profit before tax rose 141.4 percent to $17.17 billion in the year 2017. Its full-year profit before tax rose 10.9 percent to $20.99 billion after adjusting for foreign currency translation and one-off items.

Property developers, telcos and energy-related stocks slipped, while technology stocks were mixed. Heavyweight Tencent edged down 0.27 percent by the end of the day.

Markets in China, Taiwan and Vietnam remained closed on Tuesday for the Lunar New Year holiday.

European stock indexes closed in negative territory on Monday, with the pan-European finishing the day 0.66 percent lower. Other indexes in the region also closed with moderate losses.

Volumes were weaker than usual in the last session due to U.S. markets being closed on Monday for Presidents Day.

After a quiet overnight session, the dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of rivals, firmed to trade at 89.532 at 4:12 p.m. HK/SIN. That was below a high of 89.442 hit in the last session, but firmly above last week's low of 88.253.

Against the yen, the greenback traded at 107.08, off a low of 106.08 touched on Monday.

The Australian dollar was steady at $0.7909 after slipping as low as $0.7887 earlier in the day.

"In the near term, the Australian dollar remains trapped. Poor U.S. dollar sentiment continues to provide support, but a low yield structure and unchanged domestic story are providing few catalysts for renewed upside," David Plank, head of Australian economics at ANZ, said in a morning note.

On the commodities front, oil prices traded mixed on Tuesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 0.79 percent to trade at $62.17 per barrel while Brent crude futures shed 0.44 percent to trade at $65.38.

— CNBC's Yen Nee Lee contributed to this report.