Asia Falls Following Fed Testimony

Asian markets closed lower on Wednesday after Chinese manufacturing data came in below expectations. Markets also digested comments from the new U.S. Federal Reserve chief made overnight.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lost 321.62 points, or 1.4%, to 22,068.24, paring some of its recent gains. The index slipped further into negative territory as the yen firmed during the session.

The Hang Seng Index plummeted 423.94 points, or 1.4%, to 30,844.72

In Japan, a miss in industrial output figures for January, which showed a steep fall of 6.6% on month, likely weighed on sentiment. That was below a median 4.2% decrease projected by experts

Manufacturers, technology, automakers and financials traded in negative territory. Among large caps, Honda Motor fell 2.2%, SoftBank Group dropped 2.4% and Fast Retailing lost 2.5%.

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar pared overnight gains to trade at 107.06, below Tuesday's close of 107.36. The move also came as Japan's central bank slightly reduced the amount of 25 to 40-year Japanese government bonds to 70 billion yen ($652 million U.S.) it offered to purchase

In Hong Kong, major financial stocks closed in negative territory, with heavyweights China Construction Bank and HSBC down 2.7% and 0.8%, respectively.

Tech giant Tencent, the most heavily weighted stock on the index, fell 3.1% by the end of the day, as other technology names similarly recorded declines.

In Korea, tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which traded in positive territory earlier in the day, closed lower by 0.7% as other tech stocks recorded declines.

Automakers and manufacturing names finished the session mostly lower.

In corporate news, South Korean steelmaker Posco fell 4.5% The company said Tuesday that it would purchase a maximum of 240,000 tons of lithium concentrate each year from Australia's Pilbara Minerals.

Over in Australia, stocks dropped, with just three out of the 12 sub-indexes closing in positive territory. Gold producers and telecommunications stocks were among the worst performing sectors while the heavily weighted financials sector slipped 0.6%

Mining majors Rio Tinto and BHP closed lower by 0.6% and 2% respectively.

Meanwhile, shares of Australian retailer Harvey Norman plunged 12.5% after the company reported a 19.3% fall in first-half profit.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar edged up after falling as low as $0.7780 U.S. in the last session with the firmer dollar. The Aussie dollar last traded at $0.7805.


The CSI 300 dipped 35.34 points, or 0.9%, to 4,023.64.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index in China for the month of February stood at 50.3, below the 51.2 forecast by Reuters and the 51.3 figure seen in January. China's February PMI reading may be influenced by long Lunar New Year public holidays this year, as factories shut over the festive season.

In other markets

Markets in Taiwan were shuttered for holiday

The Kospi in Korea sagged 28.78 points, or 1.2%, to 2,427.36

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dropped 22.45 points, or 0.6%, to 3,517.94

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 13.44 points, or 0.2%, to 8,373.82

The ASX 200 gave back 40.9 points, or 0.7%, to 6,015.96