Asia Mostly Down as U.S. Dollar Extends Losses

Most major indexes in Asia closed lower on Thursday as the dollar continued to struggle after tumbling in the last session.

The Nikkei 225 average in Japan dropped 271.29 points, or 1.1%, to 23,669.49, with most sectors — including automakers, technology, manufacturing and financials — finishing the session in negative territory.

Major exporters traded lower on the dollar's fall against the yen. Fanuc Manufacturing shed 0.85 percent and Nintendo fell 1.8% by the end of the day. Oil-related stocks, however, were a bright spot, outperforming the broader index as oil prices rose to their highest levels since December 2014.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong decreased 304.24 points, or 0.9%, to 32,654.45.

Financials were broadly lower, with China Construction Bank declining 1.5% and HSBC off by 0.4% ahead of the market close.

Technology names were also in negative territory, with heavyweight Tencent losing 1.6%. Energy-related names extended gains as oil prices climbed. Petrochina rose 3.1% and CNOOC gained 1.4%.

Despite the declines on Thursday, the Hang Seng has recorded gains of 9% year-to-date.

Korean markets continued to gain, with recent earnings reports in focus.

Shares of SK Hynix rose 4.7% after the chipmaker announced Thursday that fourth-quarter operating profit came in at a record high of 4.47 trillion won ($4.42 billion U.S.). Annual operating profit for 2017, meanwhile, stood at a record 13.7 trillion won ($12.9 billion), which the company attributed to a rapid growth in overall memory demand.

Meanwhile, Posco stock reversed early losses to close higher by 1.3% after the steelmaker reported earnings on Wednesday.

Australian markets edged down as gains in the materials sector were offset by losses in utilities and industrials. Gold producers were up 2.8% after the metal's prices rose to their highest levels in one and a half years on the softer dollar. The heavily-weighted financials sector traded lower for the most part.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 slumped 24.81 points, or 0.6%, to 4,365.08

Major mainland-listed banks saw declines, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China closing down 0.5%. Real estate names were also broadly in negative territory: China Vanke fell 2.3% and Poly Real Estate lost 4.2% by the end of the day.

In other markets

The Kospi in Korea gained 24.23 points, or 1%, to 2,562.23

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index regained 13.79 points, or 0.1%, to 11,165.95

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index fell 36.62 points, or 1%, to 3,572.62

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 45.69 points, or 0.6%, to 8,369.78

In Australia, the ASX 200 subtracted 4.63 points, or 0.1%, to 6,050.02