Asia Plunges, Techs Hit Hard

Shares in Asia-Pacific slipped in Thursday trade, with technology stocks in the region falling sharply.

The Nikkei 225 hurtled lower 628.99 points, or 2.1%, to 28,930.11. Shares of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group dropped 5.2%.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.18 per U.S. dollar, still weaker than levels below 106.8 against the greenback seen earlier in the week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng tumbled 693.63 points, or 2.2%, to 29,236.79.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese tech companies also suffered heavy losses: Tencent fell 4.6% while Meituan dropped 8.8% and Alibaba slipped 2.24%. In Taiwan, shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company shed 3.4%.

In South Korea, industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 1.9% while chipmaker SK Hynix slipped 3.4%.

Shares in Australia also were hit hard. Australia’s January retail sales increased 0.5% month on month on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data published Thursday by the Bureau of Statistics. That compared against expectations for a 0.6% increase in an economist poll.

The country also recorded a trade surplus of 10.142 billion Australian dollars (about $7.88 billion U.S.), higher than expectations in the poll for a 6.5-billion-Australian-dollar trade surplus.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7801, weaker than levels above $0.792 seen last week.

In other markets

In China, the CSI 300 dumped 171.5 points, or 3.2%, to 5,280.71.

In Taiwan, the Taiex plummeted 305.32 points, or 1.9%, to 15,906.41.

In Korea, the Kospi index lost 39.5 points, or 1.3%, to 3,043.49.

In Singapore, the Straits Times index went against the grain and actually gained 14.41 points, or 0.5% to 3,014.78

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 subtracted 134.76 points, or 1.1%, to 12,224.50.

In Australia, the ASX 200 demurred 57.27 points, or 0.8%, to 6,760.71.