|Asia lower, yen rebound stings Japan|
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average fell sharply on Wednesday as the yen regained some lost ground, while the Australian dollar tumbled after the country’s disappointing third-quarter growth data.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index swooned 341.72 points, or 2.2%, to 15,407.94
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index stumbled 181.77 points, or 0.8% to 23,728.70
The tone for Asia was cautious on Wednesday, as regional markets dropped ahead of the November labour report from the U.S., due out on Friday — a much-watched indicator used to gauge whether the Federal Reserve will start to roll back its bond-buying program.
The October report came out well above forecast, raising expectations that another strong increase in jobs could prompt the Fed to start withdrawing it stimulus, a key driver of markets this year.
The yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar overnight and stabilized in Asia, with the greenback trading at ¥102.58, compared with ¥102.51 late Tuesday in New York.
For stock traders in Tokyo, the move was more extreme, as the dollar was trading at ¥103.21 when the market closed on Tuesday afternoon. The Nikkei experienced its largest fall since late October.
A softer yen has supported a rally in Japanese stocks in recent weeks, bringing the Nikkei back to life after several months of torpid trading and pushing the index to fresh multi-year highs. However, with the market up 9.3% in November, the overnight pickup in the yen provided investors with a reason to take some profits.
In Tokyo, Seven & I Holdings Co. was down 0.3%, outperforming the broader market, after a Nikkei news report said that the retailer plans to improve its luxury-clothing business by buying a significant stake in Barneys New York’s Japanese business.
In Sydney, data showed Australia’s economy grew 2.3% in the third quarter from a year earlier, compared with expectations for a 2.6% rise in gross domestic product by 16 economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.
The Australian dollar tumbled immediately after the announcement, falling as low as 90.42 U.S. cents from 91.35 U.S. cents prior to the data release, later moving off its low to 90.62 U.S. cents.
Shanghai’s CSI 300 index advanced 32.36 points, or 1.3%, to 2,475.14, with companies associated with Shanghai’s Free-Trade Zone getting a boost after the People’s Bank of China in the city said that the zone reforms will be launched in the next three months. Shanghai International Port (Group) jumped 10%.
In other markets;
Korea’s Kospi Index dipped 22.56 points, or 1.1%, to 1,986.80
Taiwan’s Taiex Index gained 25.45 points, or 0.3%, to 8,418
The Singapore Straits Times Index fell 26.97 points, or 0.9%, to 3,160.76
In New Zealand, the NZX 50 dropped 49.70 points, or 1%, to 4,734.16
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 17.68 points, or 0.3%, to 5,273.75