Most Asian Stock Markets in Red

By Investors Hub

Most Asian stocks fell on Monday, following steep losses on Wall Street on Friday, after a strong jobs report for January helped fuel expectations that the Federal Reserve will lift interest rates more than the three times initially expected this year.

Chinese shares bucked the weak regional trend to end notably higher after data showed that China’s private sector activity expanded at the fastest pace in seven years in January, driven by accelerated rates of growth across both manufacturing and services. The Caixin composite PMI rose to 53.7 from 53.0 in December.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index climbed 25.30 points or 0.73 percent to 3,487.50, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slumped 356.56 points or 1.09 percent to 32,245.22.

Japanese shares followed regional peers lower, with selling seen across the board. The Nikkei 225 index plunged 592.45 points or 2.55 percent to finish at 22,682.08, logging its biggest decline in 15 months. The broader Topix index closed 2.17 percent lower at 1,823.74.

Panasonic, Sony, Canon, SoftBank and Mitsubishi Electric shed 2-5 percent. Honda Motor rallied 2.1 percent after the carmaker lifted its annual profit forecast.

On the data front, Japan’s service sector activity expanded at a slightly faster pace in January, results of a survey by IHS Markit showed. The seasonally adjusted services purchasing managers’ index rose to 51.9 from 51.1 in December.

Australian shares tumbled, with all sectors closing deep in the red after the major U.S indexes fell more than 2 percent on Friday on worries about higher interest rates. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 95.20 points or 1.56 percent to 6,026.20, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 101.40 points or 1.63 percent at 6,128.40.

The big four banks fell more than 1 percent, and miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and South32 lost 2-3 percent. Energy majors Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy, Oil Search, Beach Energy and Santos tumbled 2-4 percent.

AWE declined 3 percent after it accepted a $602 million takeover bid from Japanese firm Mitsui. Engineering and mining services firm Downer EDI plunged 3.8 percent after flagging a $77 million impairment charge.

Wesfarmers slumped 4.5 percent after announcing executive changes at its underperforming U.K. hardware business.

In economic news, Australia’ service sector activity expanded at an accelerated pace in January, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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