Asia Falls as Yen Climbs

Asian markets were mostly lower on Wednesday, with Dow futures tumbling and the safe-haven yen climbing amid political and legal turmoil surrounding President Donald Trump.

The Nikkei 225 settled 104.94 points, or 0.5% to 19,814.88, as the safe-haven yen strengthened in the wake of renewed political risk.

The U.S. dollar was fetching just 112.34 yen late in the Asian afternoon, around a two-week low.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 42.31 points, or 0.2%, to 25,293.63

In Japan, exporters were mostly lower, likely hurt by a stronger yen, which decreases overseas earnings when they are translated back to their home currency.

Toyota fell 1% and Sharp shed 1%. Heavily weighted Fast Retailing lost 1.1%

In Hong Kong, shares of Henderson Land fell 1.5% late afternoon, after the company won a bid for the Murray Road property in central Hong Kong, with a 50,000 Hong-Kong-dollar ($6,421 U.S.) per-square-foot offer that marked a record high for the Chinese protectorate.

Rating agency CIMB said in a note on Wednesday that it was positive on the deal, calling it a "quality asset at fair price."

CIMB said that included Cheung Kong Property, which saw its shares rise 0.8%

Shares of Singapore-listed Noble erased initial losses to trade up 6.8% by late afternoon. Those gains followed a more than 50% plunge since its earnings disappointed.

The rise in Noble shares might be due to short-covering, with SGX data indicating more than 16 million shares had been shorted as of Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Fitch downgraded Noble's credit rating to BB-minus from BB-plus, saying the outlook was negative. That followed a Moody's downgrade to Caa1 from B2 on Monday; it also had a negative outlook.

The Australian dollar strengthened against the dollar for a sixth straight session to trade at $0.7441 U.S.

Among stock movers Down Under, Australian banks weighed the market, with ANZ falling 1.3% and NAB down 2.1%. The sector has been under pressure since the Australian budget, announced last week, included plans to impose a levy on the earnings of large banks.

Additionally, in a note on Wednesday, ratings agency Moody's cited concerns that Australia's increasing household leverage, driven by surging home prices, and low wage growth were increasing risks for the country's bank sector.

But resources plays rose, with Rio Tinto up 2.2%, Fortescue adding 4.2% and Newcrest climbing 4.6%

Also in Australia, Santos was off 2.5% Japan's Inpex fell 1.6%, and South Korea's S-Oil lost 3.8% and in afternoon trade, Hong Kong-listed Cnooc shed 08%

In the U.S., Trump defended his actions, saying on Twitter that he had "the absolute right" to share classified intelligence with Russian officials. The President's tweets came after his national security adviser told the media that the incident reported by the Washington Post did not take place.


Shanghai’s CSI 300 lost 18.68 points, or 0.5%, to 3,409.97

Chinese tech stocks are also likely to be in the spotlight, with the Hong Kong-listed Tencent expected to report earnings today. NASDAQ- listed Weibo and Sina released their earnings for the first quarter in the U.S. on Tuesday. Sina rose sharply after earnings per share came in at $0.50 per share, well above FactSet estimates of $0.17.

Tencent shares were up 0.4% late in the Asian afternoon.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index fell 17.82 points, or 0.2%, to 10,013.67

In Korea, the Kospi index inched down 2.25 points, or 0.1%, to 2,293.08

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index slipped 3.61 points, or 0.1%, to 3,224.10

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 eked up 14.89 points, or 0.2%, to 7,422.50

In Australia, the ASX 200 dumped 64.49 points, or 1.1%, to 5,786.03