Asia Mostly Lower on U.S. Tax Plan

Asia markets came under pressure on Friday, following the weaker lead from Wall Street after Senate Republicans unveiled their tax reform plan on Thursday.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 tumbled 187.29 points, or 0.8%, to end the week at 22,681.42

The Hang Seng Index slumped 15.65 points, or 0.1%, to 29,120.92

Toshiba shares fell 5.1%, underperforming other Japanese tech stocks after the company reported earnings on Thursday. The company attributed its 76% on-year increase in second-quarter operating income to increased sales in its memory business unit, which is due to be sold.

Toshiba is also considering raising around 600 billion yen ($5.3 billion U.S.) in capital by offering new shares, Reuters reported on Friday, citing broadcaster NHK.

Also in Japan, embattled steel manufacturer Kobe Steel said Friday it would be releasing findings from an investigation into a data falsification scandal at the company. Shares of the company closed up 1.9%.

Gains were seen in some Korean manufacturing names, with Posco climbing 1.3%, but blue chip names struggled: SK Hynix closed down 0.5% LG Electronics eased 1.7% and Hyundai Motors fell 0.6% by the end of the day.

Australian markets paled as the materials sub-index led losses on the broader index: Rio Tinto closed down 2.3% and BHP lost 2%

Across the Pacific, U.S. Senate Republicans released their tax plan, which contained several differences from a bill introduced by the House, on Thursday. While the bill also called for the corporate tax rate to be cut to 20% from 35%, that change would likely only come into effect in 2019, a source told the media.

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar was a touch softer on the day at 113.35 The U.S. currency had traded around 114 during Asian trade on Thursday before sliding to the 113.5 handle when Japanese equities took a tumble in afternoon Asian trade


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 gained 36.01 points, or 0.9%, to 4,111.91

China on Friday said it would ease foreign equity ownership rules limiting foreign ownership in financial sector joint-venture companies to 49%.The new limit would be increased to 51%. Insurance companies climbed following the news: New China Insurance surged 9% and Ping An Insurance closed up 5.4%

Chinese search engine Sogou made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Tencent-backed Sogou saw its shares rise by more than 10% during the session before closing up 3.9% on its first day of trade.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index fell 7.62 points, or 0.3%, to 2,542.95

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index subtracted 10.6 points, or 0.1%, to 10,732.67

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index slouched 3.81 points, or 0.1%, to 3,420.10

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 drooped 46.66 points, or 0.6%, to 7,974.43

In Australia, the ASX 200 subtracted 20.05 points, or 0.3%, to 6,029.37