Asia Markets

Major Japan and China markets drop more than 2% each; tech stocks tumble

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Key Points
  • Investors kept an eye on tech shares in Asia on Thursday after their counterparts stateside fell overnight amid a rise in bond yields.
  • Australia's January retail sales increased 0.5% month on month on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data published Thursday by the Bureau of Statistics. That compared against expectations for a 0.6% increase in a Reuters poll.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific slipped in Thursday trade, with technology stocks in the region falling sharply.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 2.13% to close at 28,930.11 while the Topix index shed 1.04% to finish its trading day at 1,884.74. South Korea's Kospi also slipped 1.28% to close at 3,043.49.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 2.15% lower at 29,236.79. Mainland Chinese stocks slipped on the day, with the Shanghai composite down 2.05% to 3,503.49 while the Shenzhen component dropped 3.458% to 14,416.06.

Shares in Australia also declined as the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.84% to close at 6,760.70. Australia's January retail sales increased 0.5% month on month on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data published Thursday by the Bureau of Statistics. That compared against expectations for a 0.6% increase in a Reuters poll.

The country also recorded a trade surplus of 10.142 billion Australian dollars (about $7.88 billion), higher than expectations in a Reuters poll for a 6.5 billion Australian dollar trade surplus.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1.9%.

Tech stocks decline

Investors kept an eye on tech shares in Asia on Thursday after their counterparts stateside fell overnight amid a rise in bond yields.

Shares of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group dropped 5.19%. In South Korea, industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 1.9% while chipmaker SK Hynix slipped 3.4%.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese tech companies also suffered heavy losses: Tencent fell 4.56% while Meituan dropped 8.75% and Alibaba slipped 2.24%. In Taiwan, shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company shed 3.38%.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield last sat at 1.4516% but had earlier risen as high as 1.491%. Yields move inversely to prices. The benchmark rate surged to a high of 1.6% last week, in a move that some described as a "flash" spike — sparking concerns of stock valuations and a potential pickup in inflation.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.7% to close at 12,997.75 on Wednesday, with shares of Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet all dropping more than 2% each.

Other major indexes on Wall Street also declined on Wednesday: The S&P 500 fell 1.31% to 3,819.72 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 121.43 points to 31,270.09.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.049 following an earlier low of 90.972.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.18 per dollar, still weaker than levels below 106.8 against the greenback seen earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7801, weaker than levels above $0.792 seen last week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours on Thursday, with international benchmark Brent crude futures rising 0.61% to $64.46 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.54% to $61.61 per barrel.

The moves in oil markets came as investors watched for developments from OPEC and its non-OPEC partners — an energy alliance sometimes referred to as OPEC+. The group is set to convene via videoconference on Thursday to discuss how to manage supply to the market.

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— CNBC's Sam Meredith and Yun Li contributed to this report.